Saturday, May 8, 2021

From the Internal Narrative of Callidus Igni

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Tertius sat at the desk, a couple stacks of blank receipt books next to him. Quartus and I sat next to him, and I was very carefully keeping my head down. We had a couple of buckets between us and the only copies of the minting manual.

A line had started forming. It was going to be a long day.

Tertius took coins, counted them out, and tallied them in the receipt books. He verified the amount with the player and then passed the coinage to us. We inspected them individually, dropped the suspected counterfeits into the appropriate buckets, and passed what remained back. He did the math, verified it with the player, and tore off the top sheet. He double-checked the carbon came through, and handed the receipt over.

It was dull work, but it needed to be done.

The worst was when we handed nothing back. I buried my head in my hands, trying not to listen to their protests. Whoever was behind it, if they wanted to throw the game into chaos, was doing a far better job of it than my delve into the Major Arcana. And the players had little enough trust of me as it was, I was paying for that already.

Tertius never stood up, never raised his voice... all he had to do was crumple up the receipt. The threat of reducing their wallet to zero was enough. In many ways, that was worse than killing their player, because a new character gets a small allowance until they get strong enough to start earning their way. These players would get no such allowance.

A couple hours in, I heard Panna come up. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her place three pouches on the desk.

"These two are probably all counterfeits. I received them in payment for services from the player no longer among us. The other one should be mostly okay, its contents came from the Master of Coin in currency exchanges." She leaned heavily on the desk, her gaze sharp. "A lot of my income comes in small denominations, and I like to keep my savings in as small of a pouch as possible; makes it easier to hide." Her eyes flicked over to me, without needing to say "In case someone tries to go through my things."

I hadn't snooped, though I had been tempted.

Tertius nodded and dumped the first two on the desk. Quartus spun on her stool at the sound and some chatter rose from the line behind her: Panna was rich by the game's standards, and that was news to many people. He counted it out methodically, building slowly rising stacks of gold, silver, and bronze coins. He wrote down the tallies and Panna watched on disinterestedly, shrugging when he ask her to verify the count. It took several trips to transfer all the coins to our inspection area, and I started on the first while Quartus played runner. I was under strict instructions not to draw attention to myself.

Tertius started a second scrip for the last bag. She had some writs in there already, and the rest was all gold. Tertuis inspected the writs first, pulling out a notebook from somewhere on his person. He stacked them and set them to one side, apparently satisfied. Then he stacked the coins and checked them himself. Only one gold coin drew his suspicion, and he marked it on the receipt.

"Do you want to wait or..."

"Just give me the receipts."

Tertius marked the first receipt as no coinage returned, signed off the second as only one gold confiscated, and passed them over.

Panna folder the writs back into the pouch along with the two receipts, dropped the coins on top, stuffed the two now empty purses into a pocket, and sauntered off.

"Set whatever's left aside for later," he called to us. "More customers coming in."

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