Buying Imbel Manor

He'd arranged to meet the sisters at the Waterfront and then go take a look at Imbel Manor. Even though Ocato had told him the purchase was going to happen anyway, he wanted them to like the place, too. He found them outside the Bear Riders' office, talking to Gudrun. She was in town on one of her monthly visits, nominally for a meeting with Heidi, but really an excuse to go shopping in the Market District.

Of course, none of them recognised him at first, with his new face, but it didn't take long to convince them he was really who he said he was. Gudrun thought the new face was an improvement, but the sisters weren't so sure. They all agreed that Taminwe had done what she set out to do. He did look like his own older brother.

Since the Market District was their first destination, to pick up a key from Vinicia, Gudrun joined them for the walk across the city. He took the opportunity to tell her about the new invention he'd heard of, and to suggest that they use one between the Lodge and the Waterfront office.

"What, spoil my reason for a shopping trip? Are you crazy?" Gudrun did accept that it might be useful in between visits, but it was no substitute for the personal touch.

When they reached the Market District, Gudrun headed for Divine Elegance, while they went across the plaza to the Office of Imperial Commerce. Vinicia didn't know who he was. "You're the second person asking about that property. That wasn't your brother before, was it?" Since it would stop her thinking too much about it, he told her that his younger brother had indeed told him about it. That seemed to satisfy her limited curiosity, and she didn't have any identity for the shack-owning "brother" either. He'd had the sale registered as Emer Dareloth, to suit the waterfront tradition.

Vinicia went with them to the Talos Plaza district and showed them around. The building was completely empty at that time, and their footsteps echoed in the huge spaces. "The Skingrad house was a bit like this when we bought it," Angeline told him. "Just not on the same scale. And do you remember Arborwatch when we first moved in? We didn't have any furniture downstairs to start with."

Diablita concurred. "It will look very different with furniture in it. You can divide a big room up with bookcases and things, and cluster chairs around a table to make a smaller area of focus. It's easier to work with a big space than a small one."

They liked the separate rooms upstairs. Arborwatch had that, too, but the Skingrad house didn't. "There's a servant's quarters down in the basement, but that's only for one person. And we have Eyja using that. We put bunks in the main bedroom, so we'd all have somewhere to sleep."

They hadn't told him about Eyja. Apparently, she'd asked them about the house-servant job as soon as they bought the furnishings at Colovian Traders. She'd been living with Gunder, but was ready to move on. They'd hired her to look after the place when they weren't around, which was most of the time, as they really preferred to stay at Arborwatch.

"One of those communication sets would be perfect for her," was Diablita's opinion. "or maybe two, if we're going to live here as well." He made a note to ask Uzgash to stop off there on her way to Kvatch. Perhaps this Eyja could operate the Skingrad office of their messaging service?

It seemed that the sisters had already decided to purchase Imbel Manor, so he let Vinicia know that, and they all went back to the Market District to do the paperwork. Again he had the opportunity to register the deeds anonymously, as it was being underwritten by the Office of the Potentate, and he took it. Then it was off to see Tartullian Verus about furnishing the place. He offered a choice of layouts for the central section of the basement. They could have a forge put in, if they needed a lot of armor and weapon work, or a mage's alchemical workbench and ingredient storage, or just a lot of extra shelving and chests for storage.

The sisters had reasons for wanting all three options, but they eventually decided on storage. They did their own repairs in the field, but Varel Morveyn and Rasheda and even Agneta the Pickled did a better job than they did, so their own forge wasn't a priority. Diablita did her own Alchemy, but she didn't really need a special room for it, and ingredients should be used quickly, while they were still fresh. She didn't like storing them for later.

But they were collecting stuff like crazy. It may have been because they just didn't have a lot of things while they were growing up on the Island, but they found it hard to leave anything behind when they went adventuring. They sold most of what they gathered, which is why they had so much cash on on hand that they could buy houses, but they'd still collected a lot that was too good to sell. None of the merchants could afford to buy it all from them.

"There isn't a basement at Arborwatch, and that's one reason we bought Rosethorn Hall in Skingrad. It has a lot of storage space, and display cases for the pretty things. But we've almost filled it up already." Angeline was quite proud of that.

Over the next couple of days, the men from the Three Brothers Trade Goods carted furniture into Imbel Manor, while the trio stayed at the Waterfront shack. Not that they spent much of their time in the cramped little place. They each had friendhips in the district that needed to be renewed, in his case with Carwen, and Minx - although not together this time around.

Once Imbel Manor was furnished, the next thing was to hold an open house party to let everyone in the neighborhood know who lived there now. Ulen Athram came over with his wife Dralora, from their house on the opposite side of the plaza. Ulen couldn't believe that he'd let so many people party in his house. "Don't you worry about having everything stolen?" he asked.

His host just smiled. The one good thing about inviting the whole of the Thieves Guild was that they wouldn't stand for freelancers stealing from one of their own. Ulen might want to check his pockets before he left, however. Carwen had her eye on Ulen, and she'd often mix business with pleasure. Dralora had just gone upstairs with the neighborhood watchman, and a bottle of wine. Carwen had noticed, and was steering Ulen in the opposite direction.

Just then, a flashing light on his desk started to attract everyone's attention, just as he'd hoped it would. Uzgash had gone to Skingrad with one of the signalling systems, and had started to teach Eyja to use it. She naturally knew of the plans for this bash.

He signalled that he was ready to receieve, and decoded the flashes for the onlooking crowd. "How's the party? <over>"

"Not too good. Some people still have their clothes on. <over>" he sent back, translating for the onlookers as he did so.

"Then open the Tamika's! <over>"

That little exchange did everything he wanted it to do. The party got a bit more spirited, and a lot of people asked him about the flashing crystal ball device. The women from the Red Dragon Club had been briefed about the importance of discussing the apparatus, even if they were busy ... doing other things.

The sisters were helping out on that, too. They'd started to learn the code, as they'd get a set to use between Arborwatch and Rosethorn Hall. And they were happy to tell anyone who was interested how easy it was.

Taminwe was pleased with the way thing had gone. The two of them had retired to the private bedroom up in the dome at the end of the party. He was half-expecting it to be occupied, even though he'd locked the trapdoor. That wouldn't stop any of the Thieves Guild, and the Red Dragon Club staff were just as adept at lock-picking. But they'd all taken the hint, and left it for him and Taminwe.

He hadn't had a briefing with her for quite a while, and he'd missed that.

They discussed the production of the new communicators. They'd have to come up with a price, and decide who was going to make them. There couldn't be any connection with the Red Dragon Club, and preferably none with the Palace. The shutter mechanism was something any competent smith should be able to produce, but the enchanted crystals would require a mage's involvement.

Well, there was no reason that they shouldn't be made separately, and purchased separately. He could take the plans for the shutter to Rohsann and get a quote for those, check with Calindil about unenchanted crystals, and he had contacts in the Arcane University who'd be able to price the enchantment service. It might be good that they'd all be dependent on each other for the continuation of the trade. No demand for shutters if the supply of crystals dried up, and so on. The other piece, that might be more of an issue, was training in the flash code. Right now, apart from Eyja, the sisters, and himself, all the potential teachers were Red Dragon Club staff. They didn't want the public associating the devices with them.

"Can you write it all down, so that people can learn from a book?" Taminwe asked. "We'd have something else to sell, and another set of merchants involved. You could have another best-seller on your hands."

"Well, before I can publish anything, I need to decide who I am now. I have a new face, and I need a new name to go with it."

"Your Black Horse Courier articles always were published with an anonymous byline, weren't they? Maybe you could stay anonymous."

"Yes, it was always just Junior Reporter on those. You don't get to use your own name until you're promoted. I think a lot of the folks around the Market District thought my name was Junior."

"So now you're older-looking we call you Senior? Major? Or just Reporter? Wait, that gives me an idea ... Clark!"

"Hmm, I like it! But that's just one half. We're not like elves, Imperials always use two names. So do Bretons, not that it's relevent to my situation."

"No, but it does remind me that the prior owner of this place was a Breton. He was known as Jakben, Earl of Imbel. Imbel wasn't just a name, it was a place. His relatives, whoever they are, presumably still live there. And if Ocato's going to make you an Earl, you need a notional earldom to connect to. So if we can decide where that is, we have our answer."

They considered a few of the more obvious alternatives. "Earl of Arborwatch" sounded appropriate, as did "Earl of Rosethorn", but he felt that those homes belonged to the sisters, not to him, especially the one in Skingrad. Taminwe mischeviously suggested that he'd spent enough time just outside Anvil to be the Earl of Gweden! He had a feeling that was going to stick.