Team, 84

It’s Always Nice When There Is Mutual Respect between Patron and Employee

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“I’ll work out the details with Helena,” Gavin said, tapping a spoon on the table. Cal wasn’t sure where he’d come up with the spoon; there were no other dishes. “If this Map really can do what you say, we definitely don’t want the Empire getting their hands on it.”

“Agreed,” Cal said. That was what he’d expected Gavin to say. He’d waited an extra day before coming to see him because he hadn’t wanted to deal with Gavin when he was sleep deprived, and he’d wanted time to figure out some of the logistics of the job with his team first. It was always better to come to a boss with a plan than a problem. “I have a feeling it can’t do what I say, but it can probably do something important, and until we know what it is, we need to make sure it’s under control. I know it’s not my job to tell you what to do with it, but it belongs in the most heavily fucking guarded vault in the world, somewhere where nobody can use it, if it really is this powerful.” Ideally, honestly, Cal thought they should give it to a dragon. All it would do then would be sit in a cave and look nice.

“I agree,” Gavin said. “A lot of things belong in vaults where nobody can use them. While we’re talking, I have a list of things for you to track down as well. No rush, because I don’t think any of them are actively dangerous.” He got up, went over to a drawer, and came back with a folded sheet of paper.

Cal took it, frowning at it. “Where’d you get this?”

“I have an information network,” he said, clearly not planning to say more.

Cal looked at the letter, scanning the list of items on it. Most of them were pretty famous artefacts, and most of them were pretty famously lost. Not all of them. “The Veil of Tears doesn’t exist anymore,” Cal said. “It was destroyed by bandits fifty years back. The Richael Wing is secretly in a vault under the castle in Hawk’s Roost, though I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell your in-laws that I know that. The Star Lamp is owned by Lord Anders Murkwain. He keeps it in his attic.”

“That’s very specific,” Gavin said. “How do you know?”

“I also have an information network.” Cal looked up, smiled at Gavin. “Also I’m the one who recovered it for him, two years ago. The Spiral Astrolabe is a myth, or if it did once exist it doesn’t anymore. But I can look into the others. The Involuted Clock is a thorn in my side. I tried to find it shortly after I got into artefact hunting and I think I found it, because it knocked me out when I touched it and I woke up six days and two hundred kilometres away with someone else’s clothes on. I’d love to find that fucker again.”

Gavin nodded, glancing at the nearby door when there was a loud moan. Ray had tagged along with Cal to the castle for no non-horny reason and was now in Darby’s bedroom with Darby, so obviously that sex practice they’d given him was paying off. “Like I said, no rush. But do keep me posted, since I’m paying you a lot.”

Cal nodded. “I’ve never been on retainer before, but I always do good work. Speaking of which, there’ll be expenses involved in going to Enjon.”

“I’ll pay them,” said Gavin immediately.

Oh. “Most people make that more challenging.”

“I want this thing and I have a lot of money,” Gavin explained. He shrugged. “If spending money can help me get it and help me get it faster, then I’ll spend money. You’ll need what, passage on a ship? Rooms at inns there? You can just set up a portal and come back and keep staying in my house.”

“We will, but we may also still set up shop up there,” Cal said. “If we’re going to be there for a while, it’s better to immerse ourselves properly so we don’t get perceived as outsiders.”

“You will be outsiders.”

“I know, but there’s a principle here. It’s possible Sully can teleport us up there, so we may not need a ship. Honestly, travel there and back might take ten minutes all around. The other expenses are going to be in equipment, bribes, that sort of thing.”

“Okay,” Gavin said, waving his hand. “Whatever. Like I said, I’m rich. As long as I don’t find out you’re using my money for something not related to the job, I don’t care.”

Cal wondered how it was that Gavin planned to stay rich with that attitude, but that was just the attitude of people with way too much money. He probably never would run out. He couldn’t even blame it on Gavin’s blood; his sister seemed sensible, even if she did get along with Beatrice. “I promise not to use it on prostitutes.”

“Oh, whatever, pay as many prostitutes as you want. But if you end up having an orgy, I expect an invitation.”

“Deal.” Cal got up, glanced at the door. “Darby was absolutely invaluable to us last time he came along on a job. He’s welcome to join us if he wants.”

“I’ll tell him,” Gavin said, also looking at the door again. “And I’ll send Ray back your way once he’s done in there.”

“They may be a while. This has been an aspiration of Ray’s for a while now.”

Gavin snorted. “Well, I have no doubt Darby is thoroughly enjoying himself. Are Ray’s family and the rest of his people doing okay? I’ve been meaning to come check on them.”

“Yeah,” Cal said. “Last I talked to them, which was yesterday, they seemed to be doing fine. Most of them are still nervous about the idea of freedom. You know, being allowed to do whatever they want. But they’re getting there. Some of them have found jobs, most of them are working on finding hobbies, at least. Two of them want to get married.” He smiled. “A couple of them have been talking about wanting to work for you, to pay you back for housing them all this time.”

Gavin shook his head. “I did that because it was my job. My kingdom wronged them, it was my responsibility to make reparations. It was the opposite of a loan; I’m paying them back. They don’t owe me anything.”

“I think they know that,” said Cal. He’d said as much to them yesterday. “But none of them blame you personally, and I also think it would mean a lot to them to be able to pay you back. To show you, and themselves, that they’re self-sufficient. That they’re getting their lives back under control, you know?”

Gavin was quiet a second. “Right, that makes sense. Tell the ones who want to work for me to think about what kind of work they’d like to do. If they don’t have preferences I’m sure I can find somewhere for them, but I’d rather have them doing something fulfilling. I’ll come see them in a few days.”

“Okay.” Gavin really wasn’t such a bad guy. “I think they’ll be okay in the long run. They just need time.”

“They can have as much time as they need,” Gavin said with a sigh. “Okay. At some point I want you to float the idea of having some of the more confident of them speak to my parents.”

“I don’t imagine they’re going to like that idea,” Cal said, crossing his arms. Most of the group were nervous talking to most people they didn’t know, let alone the king.

“I know. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that, but I may need you to help me sell it if it does. Aerchon’s trial is going to rely heavily on witnesses who can prove that he did what I claim he did.”

Oh, fuck. Cal could read between the lines. “You mean the king is worried about the Empire and might agree with Aerchon.”

“We’re all nervous about them,” Gavin said, not answering the last half. He didn’t need to. “I really want this Map, Cal. If we can keep it out of their hands…”

“Then we can prove that we don’t need to do inhuman things to beat the Empire,” Cal said. “Got it. I’ll find it.”

“I know you will. Do you need anything else?”

“Access to the academy’s Vault.” Cal had no idea if Gavin could provide that, but he had no doubt that Gavin thought he could provide it. “They have a fake there, and if it’s good enough to have fooled them, it’s worth looking at and worth finding out where they got it. Other than that I’ll do my own research, get Sully and Ray to teach me Nathnjek and then we’ll be fine.”

“How long will that take?” Gavin asked.

“I don’t know, a week, maybe two.”

“You can learn a language in two weeks?”

Cal shrugged. “I’ve never tried, but it’s important, so probably. I am a professional.”

“I don’t think being a professional makes you good at things like that.”

“Let me put it this way,” Cal said. “Your sign is pretty good by now, right? You’ve only known Darby what, two months?”

“Feels like longer,” Gavin said, a smile on his face. “But yeah. It was important.”

“Exactly. I may not have a kid, but I do have professional pride. Besides, I learned Razth in about that much time and they’re distantly related languages, and I also know some Eesk already, so I have a head start.”

“Fair enough. Well, if I could do what you do, I wouldn’t have needed to hire you,” Gavin said. “So I’ll trust that you can do it. I’ll talk to Helena. She hired you, so she’s going to pay you in addition to your stipend from me. So you’ll have professional pride and money.”

“Perfect,” Cal said with a grin. “I’ll get to work, and on this other stuff too. I’ll let you know if I find something, and I’ll let you know when we’re leaving for Narwhal Junction. Otherwise I guess I’ll only see you if Darby breaks Ray’s heart and we have to have a fistfight over it.”

“If it comes to that, I’m nominating Owen to be my champion.”

“Fine, but I’m nominating Cameron to be mine.”

“That’s cheating.”

“You’re only saying that because you didn’t think of it first.”

Gavin laughed. “Yeah. Okay, go away.”

Cal gave a mock bow. “Until next time, your Highness.”

Cal left, heading back to the house. It was nice to be working with someone he thought of as a friend. Gavin was a good guy. But he was also a good boss, which shouldn’t have been surprising, but was. And now that Cal was seeing him at home where he belonged, he was a good prince, too.

And so Cal didn’t even steal anything on the way out of the palace this time. He figured Gavin had earned that much.

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4 thoughts on “Team, 84

  1. “Ideally, honestly, Cal thought they should give it to a dragon. All it would do then would be sit in a cave and look nice.”

    Judging from Mathilda’s interlude, quite a few people agree.


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