‘Look,’ said Ezmortig, ‘I understand. You’re upset. You think this has all been for naught. And maybe it has been. But how about we make it up to you?’
There was a long pause, and then Hoyohté said, ‘I’m listening.’
‘Before you return to Vaeland, come with us to Calthos.’
“Whoa, hey,” said Desmond. “Ez, please. We don’t need to--”
‘Shut up, Desmond. I’m negotiating.’
Hoyohté looked between them. ‘Why Calthos? Your headquarters is in Kavia, no?’
‘It is. We’d only stop in Calthos briefly. You see, a while back, Desmond came into some money. Which is in Calthos.’
‘Money?’ said Hoyohté.
‘Compensation for your time,’ said Ezmortig. ‘I’m sure a smart woman like yourself could think of all kinds of uses for it.’
‘And you would simply give us this money freely,’ she said, more than a little doubtful.
‘Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for anything in return, but it’s completely up to you. Think of it as an extension of trust, an offer of good faith in hopes of fostering future partnership.’
‘Ah... I see. You’re one of the ambitious ones.’
‘Aren’t we all?’
‘Ha. Rather a bold investment, don’t you think? You hardly know us.’
‘Simple risk-reward scheme,’ he said again. ‘And it’s not that bold, really. We have a LOT of money.’
‘Will your captain not be upset that you are spending funds without her approval?’
‘Let me worry about that.’
‘Ah. She doesn’t know you have it, does she?’
Ezmortig chose not to answer.
‘If it is as much money as you say, then your captain would have taken it from you and used it elsewhere. You certainly would not be given such access to it as you claim to have.’
‘Maybe she just trusts me.’
‘If that were true, you would not be here. As you said, Atreya is not important right now. Is that what this is as all about, then? You feel you are being undervalued in your sect? Looking for a way to move up in the world, perhaps?’
“Now who talks too much?” said Desmond.