Arcaeus chewed his dinner slowly, contemplating his next question.
“Take your time,” said Ilfari as she sharpened one of her throwing knives. “We got all night.”
“How exactly did Fetin go about finding missions?” he asked.
“Word of mouth, mostly,” said Ilfari. “Those looking for mercenaries usually tell innkeepers or merchants who, for a few gold coins, are happy enough to spread the information to anyone who will listen. You’ve got to remember that towns and cities are hubs for gossip and news can spread pretty quickly if you know how to do it. Fetin or I would go to these types of places, drop a hint that we were looking for available jobs, maybe slip the informer a few coins, and there you go: instant employment.”
Arcaeus nodded, remembering that he had done something similar when he was looking to join a mercenary company. “Alright. How does one schedule a meeting with a potential employer?”
“That’s usually part of the information they spread, though not always. Those who do it right give the name of the inn they are staying at or even their home address, then it is up to the mercenary company to find them and speak with them. If they leave that information out, you can usually wait around the place where you gathered the information and wait for the employer to come back in to see if there has been any success, or even tell the informer where you’re staying so he can tell the employer where to find you. It sounds confusing at first, but it’s actually very intuitive one you get the hang of it.”
“Would you be willing to handle that task for the group?” asked Arcaeus.
“Information gathering?” Ilfari grinned. “That is kind of my forte. It probably is better that way, since I am familiar with the streets and you… well, you’re you.”
“Great,” said Arcaeus, ignoring the jab. “That will make finding jobs astoundingly easy.”
“Well,” said Ilfari, swelling a bit with pride, “I wouldn’t say astoundingly easy, but we definately aren’t going to be having any trouble, either.”
“In the meantime, I have to figure out how I’m going to distribute goods to the party. And I plan on making a larger company than Fetin had with dozens of mercenaries instead of just four, so I need to find some method of carrying extra weapons, armors, potions and whatnot around so I can give them to new recruits. I’d also like to store a bit of money from each mission so it can be used to purchase pieces of equipment for members.”
“The money and weapons can be handled easily enough by a bank,” said Ilfari.
“But then it will all be stuck in one city. No, I need some method of to keep it with me.”
“I should have figured you wouldn’t know,” said Ilfari, looking superior once more.
“Know what?” Arcaeus said, eying her smug demeanor.
“Company vaults,” she proclaimed. “Almost any bank run by Halflings or Gnomes have these, but the other races are catching up as well. I’m not too sure how it works, but they use summoning circles and rituals to move items between locations. You can basically pick up equipment and money just about anywhere in Nilriel. Well, anywhere with a bank. I heard they even give you the method of drawing your own circle so you can summon items from it with a ritual, but don’t quote me on that. It’s just something I heard.”
“Sounds good enough. I didn’t want to bring a wagon wherever we went, so that seems more convenient.” Arcaeus tapped his fingers thoughtfully. “That leaves pay and goods distribution, getting more mercenaries, and some solid method of buying goods for our mercenaries through vault funds.”
“Let’s get the most important thing out of the way, first: how much am I getting paid? Fetin was giving me 15% of everything we found, and I’m not going lower than that.”
“20%,” Arcaeus said without hesitation. “You’ll be helping me alot, so you’re due for a raise.”
Ilfari somehow looked both pleased and displeased. “That’s good, but that means you’re getting 80%.”
“No, I’ll be getting whatever is left over.”
“Which is 80%,” she said with annoyance.
“I think the bank will get about 30% of all goods and gold found,” he said, lifting up three fingers. “You get 20%, which leaves me at 50%. However, each mercenary in the group will receive pay as well, probably between 5% and 7.5% apiece. That leave me with between 35% and 40%. Do you follow?”
“I follow,” she said snappishly. “Just because I’m a thief from the streets doesn’t mean I can’t do math. I’ve tricked more people out of their money then you can even comprehend.”
“I was just trying to clarify if you understood why I said ‘whatever is left over,’ but thank you for that bit of insight into your personal life.” She looked angry, but he pretended not to notice. “Distributing the funds for items will be the toughest. I suppose the only way I we can do that is to take every request individually and weigh their merit. I’ll just have to wait until one comes up before I can really hash out how it works. Any input?”
Ilfari shrugged. “I’d rather keep the money myself, personally.”
“Noted.” Arcaeus pushed away his empty plate and considered all of these things. “I suppose that covers all the mercenary stuff,” he said, “but I do have one more question.”
“Did you hear that voice back in the shrine?”
Ilfari stiffened. “Yeah. What about it?”
“Was that…” he paused for a second, feeling the question might be ridiculous. “Was that Lolth?”
Ilfari shifted in her seat and placed her dagger on the table. “I think so,” she said. “The voice made it sound like the shrine was made to worship her, and that was definately a Lolthian shrine, no doubt about it.”
“But she was able to take control of Fetin for a moment,” said Arcaeus. “I thought the gods couldn’t directly affect those who were not of their pantheon.”
“I don’t know what really happened,” said Ilfari. “I’ve only heard your account of the events in the alter room, so you could have misremembered it.”
“I didn’t,” Arcaeus said firmly. “Fetin was clearly being controlled.”
“But that doesn’t really make sense. Even chaotic and evil gods have to abide by divine law.” She ran a hand along one of her horns. “Maybe it is just like the voice said. I mean, we were very deep in her shrine, which was essentially an area ruled over by her and her alone. Maybe the powers of the gods is different in that kind of situation,” she concluded, sounding unconvinced.
“I think that would be the most fortunate solution,” Arcaeus said. “Anything else would be… well, I don’t know what it would be because no other answer seems realistic.”
Ilfari pushed her chair back and stood. “Well, we’ll leave it at that, then,” she said. “Dwelling on whether or not we’ve pissed off an almighty immortal being isn’t exactly my idea of fun. I think I’m going to rest of up a bit, let my wounds heal. We’re gonna be busy looking for new candidates tomorrow.”
Arcaeus nodded at Ilfari’s retreating back. “Looking for more members for my company… Hmm. I think I’d best think up a name…”