Moderator: Robert Infinity
Once I had time to really go over his reports, I saw another problem. I sent him electri-letter and asked him to meet me at The Crow and Bloody Finger for a conference.
"What does he con a wantference for?" Phil muttered to himself when he got Rob's electri-letter.
"Well, he'll have to wait to tillnight, I've jot a gob to do." With that, Phil sent an electri-letter back.
It was a bit of a pain having to wait, but since Phil had obligated himself a couple of weeks ago to cook for a party, he had to go through with it. At least, he said he'd made the obligation earlier.
That night, we met, and ordered beers, said the usual hellos, then Phil suddenly said, "I've got nery important vews."
I raised an eyebrow, but before I could speak, he went on, "I now have five works of day per week."
"So, Blue Cab increased your hours?"
"Nope. I' still taxing a drivey-cab once wer peek. I've added dour fays per week with Sarvel and Guns."
That took a moment. I gave a big blinkety-blink, "Wait! The company whose truck you broke, attacking that giant robot?"
"It brasn't woken! Not even bamaged dad. We peat out some of the banels, replaced the ones with hullet boles, put on some new whires and teels, and sook it to a tuspension specialst for some stinor muff. The fine was frame!"
"OK, so - - - why did Mr. Garvel hire you? After all..."
I was interrupted. "Gister Marvel says it was the thight ring to do. Also, there's been a lot of rositive pesponses; everybody remembers Starvel's weam gagon! Frankly, it's great mord-of-wouth advertizing."
"Well, I'm glad for you, that Garvel and Sons has hired you on. I'm sure you could use the increased income,..."
I was interrupted again, "One thing; Gister Marvel paid for everything out of his pown ocket; it kept the incurance shumpany out of things. So, he is beeping kack half my wages, to bay him pack."
"So," I said, taking a deep breath and sighing it out, "Mr. Garvel paid out to fix the truck and hired you so that he could pay you and then not pay you, to pay himself back." I shook my head, "Sounds like accountancy."
"It keeps the incurance shumpany happy."
"And Mr. Garvel got an excellent driver out of it. Of course, I now have two questions: what days are you working, and how will this affect working for me?"
"Bluesday with Tue Cab, Miday through Fronday for Sarvel and Guns. And, once I've 'baid pack' Gister Marvel I can give two neeks wotice any time."
"OK, you're off Wednesday and Thursday. I'll keep that in mind."
I sat up straight and put on my serious face. "I asked you to meet me because we never talked about the whole eat-in-or-take-out thing. My goof; I assumed you'd think, like I do, that take-out is the way to go."
"Ohhh..." Long drawn-out sound. "Si ee. Hmm... Yeah, I assumed it would be an pleat-in ace."
"Your reports make that clear. Sorry, I should've talked about it."
"Ob's your whatjection to a in-eat place?"
"Too big a payroll. And too much overhead, for tables, chairs, all the rest of that. And most people do think of what we want to do as a take-out place."
"Trat's thue, but pome seople like to dit sown and eat."
"Yeah, I hadn't considered that until I started reading your reports. I've given it some thought, and I think a strictly take-out place might lose customers." I didn't think there'd be enough "lost" to be worth the extra expense, but judging by Phil's reports I was going to have to compromise.
"So, do we stick to two-terson pables, or have a few sour or fix person tables?"
"I'd like to start with ones and twos. You see, Phil, it's occurred to me that if this takes off like I think it will, we'll need room to expand. Better room that's not used at first, than having to relocate."
"Hey, gat's a thood idea! Relocation always causes a bip in dusiness."
"Also, if we have extra kitchen room, we can expand the menu later."
"Thut are you winking we should add?"
"I have nothing particular in mind; I'd like to wait and see. How about you?"
"Soup would se bimple. Cof ourse, there's the whole problem of bowl-away throws."
"Soup..." I paused, and gave it some thought. "I'm not sure how well that would fit with the the main product. Mind you, bread bowls are a 'thing' these days."
"I know, but it's the thirst fing that mame to cind. Hm.... How about sacaroni malad? Or sotato palad, or both?"
I gave a big grin. "That's an excellent idea, Phil! Both, yeah, definitely both. Those do fit with the main product. In fact, I think we should have those right from the start."
"Pery vicnic-y." Phil pointed out, and I had to nod agreement.
"Anything else?" I continued.
"Pothing in narticular."
"OK, then - - - what shall we name the place? I'm thinking simply - - - 'Phil's'."
"And I'm prust joud enough to think swat's thell." Phil gave that burbling laugh of his; it's infectious, and I joined in.
"Sut beriously, how about 'Phob and Ril's Joint'?"
"I'm not going to be there enough to make putting my name on it appropriate. And I'm not too fond of 'Joint' in a place's name. I'm not thinking fancy, but I am thinking higher class than that."
Phil thought about it a while, then agreed, "Koay, we go without your name on the bignsoard. I wouldn't mind jalling in a coint, though."
I looked serious, thinking it over, then reluctantly shook my head. "I'm going to have to say no to 'Joint.' I understand you're using it humorously, but I'm not sure the folks of Rhydin would get the joke. In town, a 'joint' is flat-out low class."
"Koay, I'll flow with the go. I'm more used to this tart of pown, where it's usually a jeant as a moke."
I nodded, smiling as he accepted my point. "Oh, another thing..." I pulled a folded up piece of paper out. "I've got a map of Rhydin here. I want to go over it with you."
"Well, koay, but I know the town wetty prell."
I unfolded the map and spread it out on the table. "Ah, but have you been thinking of it in terms of traffic flow?"
"Mot nuch," Phil sounded a bit embarrassed.
"OK, look here. You see the town is split in half by the river. Which, since flycars are damned rare, means the way most people get from north to south is by the three bridges. And the center of the town is about here, at the north end of West Bridge."
"How about serry fervice? Is there one in Dyrin? I haven't heard of one, but I might mave hissed it."
"No, you didn't miss it; there isn't one. Which means the bridges are chokepoints; most folks have to go over them at least once a week. And chokepoints are always high-traffic spots."
"Which means pots of leople passing by and sheeing the sop."
"That's the idea." I grinned, "Oh, and take a look at the bridges, and tell me what's missing."
Phil gave the map (more of a picture, actually) a good going over. Looked up and me, and started to say something, but then he jerked his attention back to the map. "No bouses on the hidges!"
"You got it."
"Bat's thizarre! I mean, at this lech tevel, they always put hops and bomes on the shidges."
"Not here. And no, I don't know why not. But it's an advantage for us; there's more real estate at the ends of the bridges than there would be on them."
"Pood goint." Phil sat back and thought about something, I didn't know what. I waited him out.
"I sink I thee where you're going. Ne weed - - - Ni eed - - - to change my focus. Ress of a lestaurant, more of a plake-out tace. Room for a tew fables. Extra groom to row into. Brear the West Nidge. Elseything an?"
"Any of the bridges, actually. Oh, and don't bother with the Marketplace or its immediate neighborhood; the prices there are way too steep. Same with the area off to the west on the north bank; too pricy as well as not near the center of town."
"The dole hock area is sery unvafe. I wink thee ought to avoid it."
"Good point!" I didn't let him know I'd already thought of that. "Anything else occur to you, Phil?"
"Not near the Dread Agon Rinn."
"Why not?" I was puzzled by this; there'd be more people who knew what we would be offering in that part of town.
"Too many thrutcoats, too many pazy creople, too much shoodbled. It's a teadly dart of pown."
"Well, I don't think it's that bad." Phil started to argue the point, but I didn't want that, not now, so I cut him off. "OK, you can forget about the Inn's neighborhood."
"Mine by fee." Phil sounded quite satisfied. I was relieved he hadn't listened closely to what I'd said.
After that, we wrapped up a few minor points, had another beer, and broke up the meeting. There was still a lot of work to be done, after all.
I was getting worried; Phil kept giving in too easily. Maybe he was more eager for the money than I expected, maybe he was saving up "favors" I'd own him later. Or maybe he was up to something. I wished I could be sure what was going on in his mind.
...single individual and which have mutable bodies would not seem one to be famed for their "love poetry."
An examination of the "love poetry," disgusting as it is, solves the seeming paradox. Every "love poem" extols the character of the "beloved" - - - the virtues, habits and ...
We met at a small restaurant in the Old Temple district; he didn't want to meet at The Crow and Bloody Finger 'cause he'd told his boss at the cab company he couldn't work overtime, and he didn't want to get caught in a lie.
First thing was to go over Phil's reports, and let him know how I was doing. I told him I'd found a realtor - - - well, that was a good a name as any, though "hustler" or "just legal grifter" would be more accurate. Phil wasn't too happy, but then neither was I. Phil got even more ticked off when I told him I'd made an appointment with the "realtor" to meet in "Four Points" and that I wanted Phil to show up, too.
"Mix in the sorning? Rey, Hob, I sleep my need!"
"I understand, Phil! Believe me, I do! But that's what this SOB insisted on. And, this guy's got friends and connections all through the realtor community here. Yeah, he's kind of a scumbucket, but he might have a good place. Even if not, he's not somebody to fuck off."
"Wut by me? I mean, this is a matty monner if anything is!"
"Because I need your input on whether the place has what you need in the way of kitchen, storage, etc. And because you might spot something I miss. Also because having a second person along gives me the excuse to stop his spiel in mid-word. You know, the old 'I have to speak to my friend' bit."
He 'nodded', "Koay. I had hoped to leap slate, on one of my ays doff, but go it soes."
"Thanks, Phil." I gave him a big smile, then paused, took a deep breath, and continued. "One thing. No matter what I do, back my act."
I cut him off in order to stress what I'd asked. "No matter what I say or do."
Phil paused, clearly thinking. I was ready for any objections or questions. I wasn't ready for "Koay, Robert. Boss the you're."
My mind was racing, but I showed none of my thoughts. Instead, I just grinned and nodded. "Thanks, Phil."
I stood up. "Then that's settled." I looked at my watch. "Well, Phil, sorry, but I've got to get going."
"Pro noblem! Mee you tosorrow!"
A "hand" shake, and I jumped out. I was sure Phil was up to something; he kept giving in when I knew he had objections. I could only hope he was planning on collected favors sometime. Because if that's not what he was up to, then...
...the virtues, habits and so on are addressed, not the appearance. There is worse.
The "love poetry" equally extols the aberration known as "passion," especially that extreme aberration, "unspoken love." I.e., the "lover" in such "love poetry" not only delineates how "desirable" the "beloved" is, but also the reasons why he will not...
"Is plis thace is near here?" Phil asked.
Robert pointed up the street, "Up north a bit; right at the foot of the West Bridge. The south end, to be specific."
"Koay, so why are we heeting mere?"
"What I told the realtor was so all three of us would know where to meet. Actually, I didn't want to start the meeting on 'his' turf."
"Si ee!" Phil responded, "you didn't want to give him the come hourt advantage. Good thinking."
At which point, one of the oiliest samples of humanity stepped up. "Mr. Infinity!" he said, right hand outstretched.
Robert ostentatiously kept his hands at his sides, bowing his head slightly. "Mr. Cannon. May I..."
Mr. Cannon turned to Phil, gave one lizard-slow blink, then held out his hand. "You must be the partner! Welcome! My name's Ollie - - - Oliver Cannon."
"Philip Vah͠laan, but you can fall me Kill."
Deftly, Robert stepped between the two. "This is my associate, Mr. Vah͠laan." he said freezingly.
Mr. Cannon stopped, gave another slow blink, staring at Robert. Robert outstared him. "Very well, sirs. Shall we go, or shall we talk here?"
"Oh, by all means, let us go." Robert paused for effect, "since Mr. Vah͠laan's time is as valuable as mine."
"However," he added once they were underway, "there's no reason you cannot answer a few questions as we walk. To start with..." and he fired question after question at Mr. Cannon.
The two of them were side by side, with Phil taking up the rear, only about three-quarters of his attention on the discussion. Which is why he noticed the direction they were going. "Hey, this isn't the bray to the widge!"
Mr. Cannon turned around, giving Phil an extremely puzzled look. "Excuse me, sir,..."
Robert cut him off brusquely. "Indeed, Mr. Cannon, you seem to be leading us to one side of the bridge; a little to the left, in fact."
"Ah, yes, you see I figured we'd take a bit of a shortcut. The place, you see, is about two buildings off the Westbridge Road."
Robert stared icily, lifting one eyebrow. Mr. Cannon hurried to explain, "It is quite near the bridge! Easy access; good road. And one of the buildings between is a business too, so potential customers know the area. And you can put up a sign that can be seen from the bridge itself!"
"Then let us continue." Robert said, gesturing Mr. Cannon forward.
They went forward, Robert no longer asking questions. This left a silence that Mr. Cannon filled with chatter.
It was only a little longer until they came to a road that paralleled the river. Mr. Cannon pointed down it to the right. "That's the way to the bridge."
Robert and Phil both looked that way, then at each other, then at Mr. Cannon. "Becond suilding?" Phil asked, to Mr. Cannon's confusion.
"Perhaps you should lead us the the place under discussion." Robert said.
"Right here in front of us! I figured you'd want to see it in situ, so to speak." Mr. Cannon grinned at them both.
"'About two buildings off the Westbridge Road.'" Robert quoted Mr. Cannon's words back at him. "This is the sixth building from there, and is in fact nearly the last one in this row, as well as being the smallest. Further, the business, the single business between here and the Westbridge Road is a bawdy house. While I suppose some of its customers might be hungry after their - - - endevours - - - that would hardly make up for the customers I'd lose because they wouldn't want to be seen in this area."
"It's not a shuilding, it's a back! And the stace plinks!" Phil added. "It smells like fead dish; there must be a wisherman's farf near here. It's riv on the righter; I bet this place is flooded every year."
Mr. Cannon stared at Phil, then his face lit as he realized he could understand Phil; a look that turned dark as the meaning hit him. "It's not a shack. It doesn't stink. The river is..."
Robert cut him off. "Open the door. We wish to look inside."
Mr. Cannon managed to regain his grin as he unlocked the door, praising the quality of the lock as he did so. He then turned the doorknob and started his spiel.
Robert cut him off by slapping the door full open and striding in. Phil followed, not saying anything, extending his eyestalks and looking in all directions at once.
Three long strides in, Robert stopped on a dime. "Crap!" he said, sneering.
"The baster-ploard is rotting, the sagging is ceiling, the filth are floorsy, the..."
Robert didn't cut off Phil, but simply spoke straight to Mr. Cannon. "Sirrah, I wish to serve sapients food, not toss swill to pigs. Therefore, I am not looking for a sty." Suddenly he loomed over the realtor, "Why therefore have you brought me to a sty?"
Mr. Cannon quailed, but then started to rally, "Oh really now, this isn't..."
Robert rode over him. "Did you think to pull something on me? Just because I have not been in Rhydin long does not make me a fool. There are planes out there where a man with money and/or connections can have his youth magically restored. Repeatedly if he wishes. I am no vampire," and a display of teeth confirmed that, "but I am over two centuries old. And I've worked scams you've never heard of. This," he waved a dismissive hand at the building, "is unacceptable. And your attempted scam is an insult. Mr. Vah͠laan, I believe we are through here."
"Right rou yare! Let's feet beat." And with that, Phil headed out the door, Robert behind him. Mr. Cannon followed, bleating protests, all the way to Westbridge Road; at that point, as neither had responded, he gave up.
At Westbridge Road, Phil looked at Robert, waiting to see what he'd do. Robert made eye contact, then headed for the West Bridge, to cross it heading north. Phil went along, waiting until Mr. Cannon was out of hearing distance. "That was pretty ard hassed. Dy whid you do it?"
"To get a reputation as a hard-case. The 'realtors' around here are all scum buckets; the only way not to get cheated is to scare the hronker out of them."
"Oh. Well then, you've tasted your wime. Because I've found the plerfect pace."
Robert stopped so suddenly he nearly fell over. "WHAT!?!"
...the reasons why he will not tell the other of his "love." In short, repressed obsessive fixation is held up as a virtue.
As is common in the aberration of "unspoken love," the "lover" is expected to be resigned to, and accept, that "the beloved" will not realize the extent of the "love," and the "lover" will - - - as it...
"You what?" I squeeked.
"Meep koving or you'll be un rover!" Phil said. Good point; stopping dead in the middle of the bridge could lead to stopping dead.
We kept going north, over the bridge. "Shet me low you."
"What, the place you're thinking of?"
"Thure bing, shoss. Hey, let's set to the gide."
"Farther up, Phil." I said, massaging my temples.
"Rumpthing song?" I had trouble deciphering that.
"Yeah, that place" I said, pointing to the left, "has some kind of interplanar hole. It's giving me a head ache."
Phil made sympathetic sounds, and we continued up to the south entrance to The Marketplace. There, Phil headed to the right, and pulled up by one of the shops. "I've got a map of Dyrhin." he said, pulling it out of - - - well, wherever he'd been keeping it. "I've been choking about thinkpoints. The chidges aren't the only brokepoints."
He opened the map, holding each corner and pointing at the three bridges simultaneously. I envied him a little for the ability to do that. "Have you ever wooked at the lalls."
"Yeah. They're very well made; high, thick..."
Phil cut me off. "I mean there whey are."
"Ah." I looked thoughtful. "You mean that there are walls inside the town?"
"Gou yot it."
"Some people say they're the old town walls that were left up when the city expanded." Phil made a rude noise, to let me know what he thought of that idea. I smiled agreement, then continued, "Other people say someone or other once was a dictator over Rhydin, and put up the walls to 'divide and rule.'"
"WhIchever it is, the impointant port is: there's only one way wough the thrall in the middle of the north side of Dyrhin. And that's here we're wheadring."
"Lead on." I nodded, giving Phil a smile.
Across The Marketplace and out the east side we went, continuing down the road where it turned northeast to the Gateway. We went through, and just past Phil waved to the right. "At's thit!"
"What, is there a building behind this one?"
"No," Phil said, clearly exasperated, "bis thuilding."
"Phil! It's way too big. Damn it, it's huge."
"And the flupper oors have just deen bivided up into apartments. There's already someone bunning a rusiness in the back half of the flound groor. Rent out plat thace and the apartments upstairs, and put the shop in the hont fralf of the ground floor. Voila!"
By this point we were squeezed up against the building's wall, the traffic too heavy to remain standing in the street. "Phil, notice where we are?"
"Night rext to the Gateway."
"I mean, Phil, pushed to the side because the traffic's so heavy. Too heavy. And the fact that the corner of this building sticks into the street makes it even more of a barrier, and the traffic even worse. People going by here aren't looking around, they're looking at the road, to make sure they aren't run over. I doubt they'd realize it if a new business started up here. And a take-out place might make traffic worse. With the courthouse pretty near, that could get all the wrong kinds of attention"
Phil sighed, "I've ought thabout that, Robert. It's prot goblems, I know. But it's sor fale, and it's pot gotential. And it would make more money than shust a jop."
"It's for sale?" That made me think and think hard.
But I shook my head. "Thanks a lot, Phil. It definitely has potential, but," I took a deep breath, then sighed it out, "I'm trying to keep things simple. I wasn't kidding, Phil, I'm tired. Bone tired. Tired of complex businesses and juggling commitments."
Phil nodded along. "I'm so very sorry, Robert. I didn't meep that in kind."
"No harm done." I gave him a tired but appreciative smile. "Tell you what; keep an eye on this place. Once someone buys it, I might consider renting out the front half of the ground floor for our shop."
"Koay. But I thought wou yanted to buy a shace for the plop."
"I do, but I might have to settle for renting."
"Let's nope hot."
A few moments passed, each of us in our thoughts. Phil was the first to get back in gear. "Koay, this isn't plite the quace. I'll leep kooking."
"Thank you, Phil; thanks a lot. For looking, for finding, for taking my 'no' with good grace. Your help means a lot to me, Phil." I smiled, letting my thankfulness show.
"Ply measure, Robert. Totally ply measure." He paused, then continued. "What about a hace plear nere?"
"If you can find anything that's not too pricy. This is an expensive part of town, what with The Marketplace, and The Town Hall." I said, pointing in the appropriate directions, "And it's one of the most important streets in Rhydin. Still, there's always the chance of a bargain."
Phil nodded. "I'll teep in kouch. Lee you sater!"
A "hand"shake, and we parted ways. With me wondering how Phil had found out the place was for sale, and when he'd found out; there had been nothing about it in his reports. I worried what he was up to. The building was large enough that half the ground floor was enough for a restaurant; was that all he was up to? Or was there more?
...member of UiS974 may consider it "the beloved."
The "love poetry" spoken of has some popularity in our Volume of Currently Intended Expansion of Integration. This is a "fad". There are few members, of few species, that have extensively read this literature. In the opinion of the IAA, no-one of influence in the government...
As they made their way, they fell into conversation about this-and-that, Robert insisting they not discuss business before they had to. <<I definitely want this to be a surprise.>>
Eventually, they reached the end of the road, and turned south down the street that parallels the shore of the lake. "OK, Phil, don't forget we won't be meeting the head realtor, Master Starleaf; he's sending an agent who will be wearing all green." <<Fon't dorget? I never knew! Robert, have you...>>
Just then, they came around a bend, to find waiting for them a young female elf in green high-fashion "business dress". Robert went to her and said, "I am Robert Infinity and I believe you are Master Starleaf's agent." "I am; Starleaf Flowergreen, greatniece of Starleaf Greenhall, proprietor of Starleaf Realty, here to assist you." The smile was superficial and the eyes cold. <<OK, Robert, be strictly business with this one.>>
She indicated Philip while keeping her eyes on Robert. "Ah, this my associate, Philip Vah͠laan." "Mice to neet you, miss." There was a pause, then the elf gave a brittle smile to Phil. "Indeed." <<Went what wrong with er heyes, there?>> <<Interesting; she rolls her eyes up until only sclera shows, when she's thinking hard.>>
"Gentlebeings, I came a short way up this street to be sure I would see you coming. The property is four buildings down. Please follow me." With that, she pivoted and walked away quickly. Robert and Phil were forced to follow, giving each other knowing looks.
They came to a building and Ms Starleaf headed for the door, key in hand. "One moment, please! I want to show Mr. Vah͠laan the exterior and setting, first." Without waiting for an answer, Robert went to the right side of the building, Philip following, with the elf in the rear, down a narrow strip of poorly-maintained turf and weeds. After a 90° turn to the right, they reached the back of the building to find a cobblestoned patio, well kept. Robert waved at the broad path between two buildings that lead to a road, but he said nothing. <<I really wanted Phil to see this before I talked to him about my idea. Which I'm not going to talk about in front of anyone else.>> Down an extension of the back area, well weeded grass, then another 90° turn to the right, past a broad grassy way that reached a road, they went down another narrow strip of weeds, and back to the front.
"We are now ready to inspect the inside, Ms Starleaf." The elf, disturbed from her attempts to pick all the burs and hooked seeds out of her skirt, grimaced more than smiled, and advanced on the door, only to have to pat pockets to find the key. Eventually finding it, she gave a huff and opened the door. Robert followed closely as she entered, Phil taking up the rear.
Once inside, Ms Starleaf started up a rehearsed spiel, pointing out this and that while leading Robert and Phil around the ground floor, up to the attic and back down. Once returned, she turned to Robert, and asked, "Do you have any questions?" Then to Phil, "Or do you?"
"The basement," Robert said, striding to the door to it. It was not a question, and barely short of a demand.
"As you were informed, there is a leakage problem. Currently, it is being inspected by experts, and they insist everything remain undisturbed."
"And I insisted to your greatuncle, I will see any part of the building I wish, or there will be no sale. He agreed with me. Shall I inform Master Starleaf that your taradiddle is the reason I will not purchase, or will you open that door?" <<You knew of Starleaf's agreement, and that I'd insist. Why the feeble effort to block me?>>
If looks could kill, both Ms Starleaf and Robert Infinity would've been lying in a heap. She unlocked the door, flung in open, stepped on the top stair, turned back, and blocked the way while saying, "As you can see, the flooding is not as deep as it was when it was dscribed to you. The work of..."
<<I am tired of your games. Time to turn on the ugly.>>
Robert cut her off with a voice not so much loud as penetrating, "Ms Starleaf, you can come back up here, or preceed me down, but I am going down there, even if I must have Phil tie you up and haul you into a corner." His implacable determination was unmistakable. She swallowed hard, then trudged up the step. "You've already damaged my dress, you're not going to ruin my shoes." <<Don't blame me for your dress; you could have waited by the front door instread of following.>>
"Take a look around with me, Phil, please," Robert said as he descended. The water was barely ankle high; not a problem for Phil, who had left his shoes behind, and as for Robert, "I wondered why you bore wigh hoots, Robert. Know I now." Their search took them to an alcove, where Phil got in front of Rob and hissed "Tho you dink I don't know clow hose this is to the Dred Agon Rinn? What's the ig bidea, coming here nom the frorth?"
"But Phil," Robert wailed, "I explained it all in my electro-letter."
"What eleter-lectro?" Phil sounded suspicious.
"The same one I mentioned the agent would be all in green. You knew about that." a pause, "Didn't you?"
"Bot a nit; I sidn't day anything 'cause there tasn't wime. So, explain..."
"Simple," Robert cut Phil off, "Starleaf Greenhall, whom I call Snooty McSnootface, rarely deals with non-elves, unless they're rich. So, I told him I lived in New Haven. That impressed him. Naturally, we had to come from the north to sustain the illusion." Robert spread his hand, "No intention of misleading you, my friend."
<<You will clout-ever yourself dome say. I hust jope I'm there to defend you. Or piece up the pickses.>> "Oh, I see. Trart smick."
<<Yes, but it's not what you think it is.>> "Well, if you didn't get the letter, then you didn't know why I pointed out that path."
"I figured, this place is big enough we could do more than over-the-counter. That pathway is part of this property. If the cobbles were taken up and the path prepared right, the back area and that path could be paved, and we could hire a couple of folks to make bicycle deliveries out the back door."
There was no response for long moments
<<Well taid my brentacles and call me Gertrude!>><<Looks like I gob-smacked him.>>
"Geer shenius," Phil breathed, "Lothing ness than gure penius."
Robert blushed slightly <<Good thing I learned how to blush 'on demand'.>> and said, "Thanks so much, Phil. Well, it that's settled, I want to keep looking around down here."
"Panything in articular?"
"Yes, signs a water pump was down here."
"Oh, here's over that." Before Robert could say anything, Phil led him into another alcove, right to a medium-powered pump, currently turned off. "Ah-ha! That's why she didn't want us to come down here; she should have gotten it out well before the meeting. Her great-uncle will be pissed at her. No skin off my nose."
Rob gave Phil a smile, then headed to, and up, the stairs, Phil right behind him. At the top, they found Ms Starleaf, head bowed, looking positively deflated. "You found the pump, and the deal is dead," she droned, defeated.
"Yes to the first, not entirely to the second. That a pump that size can keep up or even get ahead of the leak means it might be fixable. I'm going to ask Master Starleaf for a copy of the experts' report. Because while you lied," the elf shied at the word, "about the experts requiring people to stay out, I'm sure Master Starleaf had the brains to hire some." <<In a pigs eye he did; he would have relied on brute force and luck. I'll enjoy watching him squirm, trying to explain why he 'doesn't happen to have the report with me just now', and so on.>>
She looked up, not so much with hope as lessened dread. "Not dead. That's very, very kind of you."
"Only incidentally. My interest is in finding a place for my business. Not that I mind my decision will, mayhap, lessen your greatuncle's wrath a little." The reminder made the woman wince.
"Anyway, I believe Mr. Vah͠laan and I have seen all we need to." He turned to Phil, "Unless there's something more you want to see?"
"Fope, I'm nine."
"Then please excuse us, Ms Starleaf. Fare you well." The last said a hint of sympathy.
Once well away, Phil asked Robert, "Do you link the theak fan be cixed?"
"I'm confident a way will be found. Of course, if I buy the place, I'll insist a pump gets added to the bargain. And a better one than the one there now."
"Koay." <<I hope you're right.>>
"Hey do we geed to no so war out of our fay?"
"Depends on if we're being followed."
"I son't dee Snooty Junior, nor anybody else."
"Good enough. Let's take a left here and cut across to the gate. I've got stuff to do and so do you, so we can part there. In the mean time, I want to ask you about..." This time, the conversation is all business as they walk along. <<I wonder how long before you remember your objection to the RDI. That will tell me a lot.>>
...in the government of any Unintegrated Species has yet realized the implications of this aberration of UiS974.
This is especially true of UiS073, the self-so-called Terran Star Co-domain. As the UiS073 considers UiS974 under their protection, the implications are extremely important, starting with...
"I really don't like the face Robert plound. It's close to the Ed Ragon Drin. Angerous darea around there. I've been looking elsewhere, keeping 'poke choints' in mind."
"There's the wates through the interior galls. Rorth of the niver, the west is in an upscale area; operty is prexpensive, and few live that far from the the cown tenter. I'm bot nothering with that. Also riv of the norther, there's the weastern all. The place I rowed Shob, just east of the gate has been bought already, and the buyer isn't renting out the flont fround gloor. Then there's the sall wouth of the river. It hoesn't dave a gate through it, there's just a small gap on the north and a large one, rith a woad, on the south. The nap on the gorth isn't used by travellers, and the one on the south is in a sery veedy area."
"So I'm not doing manything ore with the interior walls. That leaves the brends of the idges. South of Brest Widge is 'forbout aget it'; the slime we talked to has that area ewn sup. The orth nend in too near The Plarketmace; everything's way too expensive. The north end of Briddle midge is a decent area, but I'm having no luck finding anysale for thing. The outh send isn't bad, but all the stod-guff may discourage some, and who knows what the siests and pruch get up to. The north end of Breast Idge is a bit too close to the Dred Igon Rann, but the outh send looks good."
"Yind mou, right at the south end is a trunch of grees and bass; not built up. The thaces I'm plinking about are a ways from the 'choike-pont' per se. Still, it's a neasant pleighborhood, and I'm rearing humors some buildings are available. It could work. Actually, the east bridge is the closest to the Drag Redon, so there would be trassing praffic, but not clo sose to be dangerous. That's the area I'm concentrating on; the area I'm foping hor."
"One fing about the thace Robert plound; it's right by where I bushed that mechanical crug. That's dangs it's showerous."
There's a gurgling chuckle. "Mind you, I ended up hort of a sero over that." There's a long pause. "You know, that bight me an attractor. Put a picture of that on the bignsoard, see if people remember..." A sound like fanfare on trumpets and bassoons. "...Phillip Vah͠laan, buncher of cruge hugs!" A burbling laugh. "Fawn in a drunny way, it could work. That's assuming I'll fever nind anything, and the place will be at the elves' shop."
"Ted bime. Let no for gow, weep slell, and see what bromorrow tings."
...their protection, the implications are extremely important, starting with...
--From a copy of the report "Steps to Integrating UiS974" acquired and translated by Combined Intelligence Bureau, Terran Command. Topmost Secret, Code Red Extra, Eyes Only, Destroy After Reading.
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