The merchant stood, leaning forward, with his hands resting on his counter top.
“Dear sir you can’t be serious? Why in the world do you think I would part with such a precious work of art as this manuscript and for such a paltry sum?”
The customer answered. His voice had a light timber that was barely above a whisper. It had a sweet quality that for most would be reassuring but for the merchant it was simply difficult to hear. He leaned closer to try to hear what his customer was saying.
“I would hazard a guess that it’s because you haven’t had a better offer than mine, perhaps?”
The merchant jerked back as face grew red as if stung by the quietly spoken words. He chewed on what the small man who stood in front of his counter had said. His eyes took on a calculating slant and he mentally took a deep breath as he took another look at what he thought was going to be an easy mark. The man in front on him was small in stature with thick black curly hair cut short and neatly combed with an oily quality that gave it a rich shine and spoke of a meticulous attention to appearance. His teeth where white and beautifully matched top and bottom. His olive colored skin highlighted the effect and it produced a charming appearance. He wore a smart dark suit with grey pinstripes but the cut of the suit looked sightly out of style for 1948. Looking down the merchant noticed that his black shoes were topped with white spats. He grinned to himself as he rubbed his hands together thinking that is was only a matter of time before he reeled this fish in.
But before he could say anything the door opened and a young lady entered the shop. She was around five foot five with a slim athletic body. . Her auburn hair was straight and cut short in a rather boyish style. Her skin had a rich tan that spoke of more hours outside than in. She was plainly dressed in a tight fitting skirt and matching top that exhibited the finer points of her body, her long legs and slim waist. She looked good enough to draw the merchants attention away from his sale, which was much like saying she could make a blind man see. She went straight over to the small man and leaned over and gave him a kiss. He smiled and said.
“Shara you’re back early. Find nothing to amuse you in any of the shops?”
She smiled while leaning forward to look at the manuscript that lay on the counter top. She seemed to lose interest as soon as she looked at it.
“This place is full of frightfully boring knickknacks.”
She paused, her tongue sticking slightly out of her mouth as she played with the manuscript’s cover as she continued.
“Everything here is much like this, second rate.”
The merchant’s eyes widened but before he could say anything.
“My dear I offered a thousand pounds for it. Are you saying it’s too much?”
Shara sniffed and she looked even more bored with the entire conversation.
“Aurturo take me back to the hotel, I’m getting tired.”
The merchant started to panic and raised out his arms in a gesture of supplication.
“I thought we had a deal?”
Aurturo raised an eyebrow and shrugged his shoulders as he ran a white gloved hand along the manuscripts spine.
“Maybe I was being too generous...”
But before he could continue the merchant exclaimed.
“Enough! I can see you’re a man of taste and intelligence so I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take 900 pounds and...”
Before he cold finish Aurturo said.
“800 not a penny more!”
“SOLD!” Exclaimed the merchant who immediately started wrapping the manuscript up.
It was only afterward as he stood rubbing his chin that he wondered how the sale had slipped out of his control that he found his mind drifting back to the attractive young lady. Could she have been involved...
Meanwhile Shara and Aurturo walked back to their hotel arm in arm. All that passed between them about the sale was a shared wink and smile. It was only when they were sitting in their hotel room that Shara asked.
“Well are you going to tell me or do I have to drag it out of you?”
“As much fun as a wresting match with you sounds I’m going to have to beg for more time before giving you an answer. I’m sure we will receive a handsome profit from our investment but I have a feeling that this might be worth much more than I think. I’ve sent a telegram to Rowe asking him to meet us back in London. He should be done with his latest dig and with luck my telegram will catch up with him before he leaves Europe.”
Shara wrinkled her nose as she nodded her head in agreement.
“London is going to be so much more fun than here so I’ll give you the extra time you ask for.
Just don’t get use to it.”
Then she laughed as she picked up the manuscript and read the title.
Goal: Stop the Ottomans. If possible destroy them. But since I’ve never been one to take the game mechanics apart and dissect the beast I tend to make mistake after mistake so we will have to wait and see how this all works out.