Wolves at the Door (part 105)

“Excuse me…”

“Not buying, kid.  Don’t waste your time.”

If nothing else, now Gil knew his translator was working, at least on someone right in front of him.

“Buying? Not buying what?”

Whatever it is that you’re selling.  Couldn’t if I wanted to, I just spent everything I had.”

In such a crowded market, competition for customers must be fiercer than Gil had realised.

“I’m not selling anything.  I just wanted to talk, while you’re waiting, if you’re not busy.”

“You want to waste your time, that’s your business.  As for me, I’m gone as soon as my order comes through.”

Gil asked where this most crowded portal lead to, but the answer meant nothing to him.  Names did not translate.

“Do you come here very often?”

“Sure, when I can’t avoid it.”

“You don’t like it here?  It’s pretty amazing.”

“Eh, if I want fog I’ll go to the mountains.  If I want crowds shouting in a dozen different languages, I’ll go home.  Drinking is a more enjoyable way to lose weeks at a time.  This? If you like it, you can keep it.”

Yet here he was, no matter how unimpressed he claimed to be.

“But you keep coming back?”

“More times than I can count, over the years.  Hated every moment.  But I didn’t have the sense to learn an honest trade when I had the chance.    This is what I get for not studying harder.  No, I wanted adventure.  Well here it is, and it’s ten times as boring as studying ever was.  What about you, kid?  If you’re asking all these questions, I guess you’re not local.  Did you set out seeking adventure?”

“Not really.  I think adventure came seeking me and I wasn’t quick enough to hide.”

“Ha! That’s a tough break.  But it all comes out the same.  You’re stuck with it, just like me.”

All the while he had been talking, the impatient customer had been looking out anxiously for the runners returning to fill his order, but he also kept glancing back over his shoulder towards the stall where water streamed theatrically from vessel to vessel.  Gil took the opportunity to ask about its purpose.

“You mean the timekeeper? What, you don’t know about that? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Hardly anyone from this side seems to care how long anything takes.  At least these guys have their priorities straight.”

He nodded towards the merchant taking orders and the runners as they were dispatched to fulfil them.

“Do you always use their service?”

“Of course! I always put off coming to this dump until I can’t avoid it any longer.  And the more I put it off, the longer my shopping list gets.  Do you have any idea how long it would take me to find everything myself?  I don’t, and I don’t intend to find out.  If these boys are happy to waste their time on it, I say better them than me.  And speaking of not wasting my time, looks like we’re done here.”

True to his word, on seeing the merchant beckon him over to collect his order, the customer left without so much as a glance back in Gil’s direction.


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