Charles watched through thick glass as smoke rose toward a sky already filled with snow. He smiled and reached for a cigar. He stopped himself. No, they were too rare. Use them when they mattered, not because he was bored. Cigars, unlike workers, were irreplaceable.
Paige stuck her head through the door. “A Mr. Danal to see you, Mr. Graston.”
“Oh? Thank you, Paige. Send him right in.” Charles settled into a stuffed chair and reached over to turn up the radiator. Nothing said ‘power’ like an overly-warm room.
Danal sauntered in. He wore his white fur cloak like a barbarian. Under it, though, he’d cleaned up. A good tan button-shirt with an actual tie. “Danal! Good to see you. I see whoever your most recent woman is, she’s actually giving you the mirage of respectability.”
The corner of Danal’s mouth flicked a grin. “Zeresh has her uses. And so do I, Mr. Graston.”
“Indeed. You’re back from another hunt, and I assume a successful one if you’re approaching me. Please, sit down.”
“Thank you.” Danal took the stuffed monstrosity opposite Charles. “I do have something for you. A bear.”
“A bear! Ready to be mounted?”
“Of course.” Danal nodded.
“We haven’t had one of those in the Pits for years! McGrevich will be insanely jealous! Name your price.”
Danal waved a hand. “I would never want to burden you.”
“Nonsense! You and your wares would never burden me.”
Danal leaned back in the chair, considering. “McGrevich paid 10k for the other one.”
“The other one?” Charles kept himself from sputtering.
“Oh, yes, didn’t I tell you? He got first pick. Of course, I can always sell him the second as well. I’m sure he’d be interested in having two of something you have nothing of.”
Charles remained silent. The radiator hissed. “10k. Done. You’ll have it.”
“What? Oh, no, Charles. I’d like twelve from you.”
“You play a dangerous game.”
“I hunt for a living, away from the Pits, on the plains. I play a dangerous game every day.”
Charles waited. “Eleven.”
“Done. I’ll have the bear delivered to your personal attendants in two hours? Good to do business with you. As always.”
Read more of the world of Snow and Smoke here.
Read the previous story, Air for Aaron, here.
Read the next story, Heat-Leak Hearts, here.