The Art of the Deal

Rass looked at the man across the table and narrowed his eyes for a moment. The man had called himself Falcon but that was obviously not his real name. This had to be handled delicately if there was going to be any measure of success. Rass also knew that if something needed to be done delicately, it was usually not Rass who should be doing it. He was kind of an asshole and not very good with people. Still, he was the only one present and this was the time to get things done.

“I’ll give you two gold pieces for it.” Rass said. Almost instantly he knew it was a mistake from the look on the Falcon’s stony face. Was it too much or too little that he had offered? Was it his tone that had accidentally revealed some unknown weakness?

“Forty gold.” Falcon said. He held a very serious expression for someone saying such a ridiculous number.

“Ok. That’s a little more than I wanted to spend. How about three gold? I can take it off your hands for you.” Rass countered. He let a look of concern onto his face and knew that was a mistake too.

“Sixty gold.” Falcon said as he sipped the odd liquor from his glass. Rass could smell how foul it was from across the table.

“Um, I don’t think you understand how bargaining works.” Rass said. He made a point of cinching his money pouch closed tight and started to put it away.

“I don’t think you understand how bargaining works.” Falcon said. “I have the item. You have the money. You want the item. You give me the money. You get the item.”

“Those are the basics of buying and selling. Yeah. There’s other subtleties and traditions that need to be observed.” Rass said. This was not how he expected this to go.

“Like what?” Falcon asked as he looked genuinely interested.

“Well, like you are supposed to lower your price since I’m not going to pay that much.” It was straight forward but worth a shot.

“That’s subtle?” Falcon asked.

“Well, it was subtle until I said it out loud.”

“Fine. Twenty gold.” Falcon said.

“OK. See? That’s better. Nineteen Gold.”

Before Ross could continue negotiations, a woman in a scarlet cloak moved into a seat next to Rass’ opponent. She had been close enough to have been listening to the whole thing. Rass had had no idea she was involved but the Falcon’s grateful body language said she ws definitely involved.

“Alright. Let’s just stop right there before all of this gets out of hand.” The woman said.

“Wait, who are you?” Rass asked.

“No names, remember? You can call me Princess.”

“Princess, huh? Call me, um, Shadow.”

“Cute. So the Diamond of Rhyme is a very specific item. It could only be used for very, very specific purposes. And yet, you want to buy it which means one of two things. One, you are an idiot. Two, you really need this diamond which would also mean we have the upper hand.” Princess said, a broad smile spreading across her admittedly pretty face.

“Maybe I’m an idiot.” Rass said.

“I don’t think so. Besides, there’s not an idiot discount. There are no discounts actually. You’re going to be paying a lot.”

Malayna suddenly sat down next to Rass. “What is taking so long? Why don’t you have the diamond yet?” She asked, tilting her head to the side and letting those copper curls frame her face.

“This is hard.” Rass said. “I gave them my business look and I even cinched my pouch closed like you do sometimes. They jacked the price back up anyway.”

Malayna smirked and shook her head. “If we needed negotiation, we wouldn’t have sent you. We would have sent me. You could have just grabbed the diamond and ran, dummy.”

“Oh. Well what do we do now?”

“Well, if you think you can take the guy. I think I can take Princess.”

“What? Don’t you think they would expect something like that?”

“Oh. I don’t know. I’ll just go for her eyes.” Malayna said with a wicked smirk.

“Really? Count of three then? Do we go on on one or do we go on go?” Rass asked.

“Nah. I think they’re sufficiently distracted.” She said.

“For what?”

Karel casually walked behind Princess and Falcon and gently pressed the points of his daggers against the back of their necks. To their credit, both of them froze and the smirk disappeared from Princess’ face.

“Hand over the diamond, ugly.” Malayna demanded of Falcon. Rass held out his hand and plucked up the diamond as Falcon held it out. Rass tried not to enjoy it too much. “Thank you very much. We’ll be going now.” Malayna stood up and pulled Rass with her out of the crowded bar.

“So what now?” Rass asked as they jogged toward the town limits.

“We meet up with Karel and get the hell out of here. We’ve got a world to save.”


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