The palace

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

“I’m happy to receive whatever you have for me here,” the man, claiming to be treasurer said, without much flare.

Jose looked back at Emma and Noemi, not so much for instruction, but simply to express his astonishment to the outside world.  After all that they had been through, he couldn’t possibly believe that this man was the exact person that they were after.  It was impossible for his mind to accept.

“You’ll excuse my scepticism, sir, that you are the very person that we’re looking for.  It would be a wonderful coincidence.  I’m sure that my employer would not be best pleased with me if I simply gave up the documents without any sort of verification.”

“I’m afraid you’ll just have to take my word for it, friend.”

He had been down this particular garden path, Jose, and had no intention of going down it again.  Especially not for something that may get him money in the end.

“My employer mentioned that you would be paying us for delivery of these documents.  Do you have funds to hand?”

The would be treasurer’s face turned sour.  Maybe he decided it wasn’t pursuing, but he gave it another go, “I have a few bob on me.  Enough to cover your expenses of travelling over here, though I’m not sure why I should be footing this.  Who did you say was sending the documents.”

“I’m afraid that I’m not at liberty to say without knowing you are definitely the intended recipient.  My employer said that you would know how much to pay us.  So, if you can do so then I’ll give you the documents.”

“This is all rather uncouth.”

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t have this delivery go wrong.”

“And you’re saying that a few bob won’t do?”

“It would not.”

Jose wondered if he had pushed it to far.  If this was the the treasurer then he may find himself in trouble.  Then he corrected himself.  How would he be in trouble?  There was only downside for him in giving it to the wrong person, even if he could get a few extra quid out of him.

Walking up from behind Jose, Emma then joined the conversation with a short nod, “Perhaps if you could walk us to your office in the Palace, then everyone would be satisfied?  I would ever so much like to see the ground,” she said with a twinkle in her eye, doing her very best to play up her feminine features.

The would be treasurer was much more amendable to the approach of Emma.  Jose loved her in that moment just a little bit extra.

“What an elegant solution my dear, and I would be so happy as to show you around the ground,” he said and then turned towards Jose, “You are lucky that you have such a charming and intelligent companion here.  I was about to lose my temper.  It’s only a short walk from here, so follow me”

He walked closely to Emma, with Jose and Noemi trailing just behind.  The treasurer could not help himself but be as close to Emma as possible and constantly point out various curiosities along the short walk.  Mustering everything he had at his disposal, he tried to charm.

A short way from the bridge, they came to a brick wall with the Palace in the background.  This was the ‘walled garden’ according to the would be treasurer, who was now looking ever more likely to be the actual treasurer.  They amble through the walled garden taking in some fine specimens of the botanical arts.  None of them could name them or understand their worth per se, though the they were assured it was something quite special.  After taking a round of the walled garden, they exited the opposite end from where they entered and there before them was the Palace in its splendour.  It was a box type building of great size that was quite imposing in the surroundings even if it would have blended in down in the City.

“Beautiful,” Noemi said, “is the whole thing for the Bishop?”

“Indeed, though the grounds are often open to the public, in particular the walled garden.”

“And where is your office,” Emma asked before Jose could butt in with a comment that might offend.

“Down to business so soon my dear?  That’s ok, I quite understand the need to get on with things and we are reaching the end of the day.  Follow me please.”

He took them around the side of the building in order to get through the front entrance where there was a courtyard from some centuries ago.  Tudor, he had said, though the Palace had been around in one form or another for centuries.  It was a hard thing to fathom that other people had definitely stood in this spot a thousand years ago going about some other business which has faded completely into insignificance.  Much like what they were doing now.

A guard nodded to the man as they entered.  Jose felt slightly squeamish at the sight before reminding himself that it didn’t really matter.  What would this man do to him.  It was still slightly odd that he looked as though he had lost his way, taking a wrong turn or two before arriving at a small door, which he opened slowly.  Inside, there was a large desk stacked with papers and various untidiness about the place.  Not quite fitting in with the man’s exterior persona.

He sat down at the desk and said, “so, to business.”

Gathered in front of the desk, they all nodded and then Jose spoke, “in regards to payment?”

“Yes, well, indeed.  Show me the documents and then we can discuss.”

Jose worried that he’d completely lose leverage by handing over the documents, though he also saw this stand off going on ad naseum.  He capitulated and handed over the sealed bundle.

The treasurer examined the bundle without breaking the seal.  “I see it’s from Thomas Jenkins & Co – I can’t say I’ve ever heard of them, so I am quite intrigued.”

Warning signals abound had all three of Emma, Noemi and Jose darting their eyes around the room and wracking their brains for an exit route.  They had to know the way out of this turned properly sour.

“Though I don’t meddle much with banks, so I guess that’s why.”

A treasurer that doesn’t meddle with banks did not smell right so Emma asked, “is that not a bit odd given your role?”

“Not at all my dear,” he said, breaking the seal and looking up at them all, “because I am the Bishop, who’s affairs deal more often with the soul than the coin.”

They should have been surprised, but they weren’t.  Of course he wasn’t the treasurer.  How could they have had the sheer luck of that happening?  At the very least, they were delivering the documents to someone in the same organisation.

The Bishop took the folio of documents out and carefully examined them one by one.  Everyone was as interested as the Bishop to find out what they contained.

“Do you know what these are?” He asked after a minute or two of silent examination.

“As we said earlier, we were only charged with delivering the documents.  We were never privy to their contents.”

“Well, apparently my stalwart treasurer is asking this Jenkins fellow to find us money through issuing a bond and he’s taking 25% of the funds raised for the pleasure!  I’m not even sure we need money!  What do you say to that?”

“May I inspect the documents, your lordship (assuming that is the correct honorific)?” asked Jose.

It wasn’t, but his holiness did not mind and simply handed over the stack of documents. Jose started thumbing through them with both Emma and Noemi trying to examine them at the same time.  They had to make a quick choice.  Would they be honest and say they didn’t know anything about it, side with the Bishop and call the treasurer and Jenkins scoundrels or side with Jenkins and have a favour down the line?  They had been tricked themselves recently and knew how horrible it was.  Likewise, they saw those who tricked getting ahead and this that were tricked falling by the wayside.  Jose decided that he’d had enough and made a snap decision, “I see what they’re doing here…”

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