After an hour or two of reading, I’ll get up and re-approach the halfling. I’ll take some care to make sure that the others aren’t around when I meet up with him.
“I’ve been doing some thinking while I read, and I’m afraid I must rescind my prior offer of even one favor. I do have arcane ambitions, but would be a fool to owe even one honor oath so general to someone I just met.”
Zatha stretches before looking at Rihnan. “Suit yahself. Ah’d think ya’d want anythin’ that could help ya. Especially for such a small price as a couple favahs. I mean, how bad could they actually end up bein?”
Zatha narrows his eyes a bit, “Did ya think a’ somethin else ya wanted ta trade with?”
I smirk a bit and try to hide my anticipation of a response of this sort. “Ah, see, that’s my problem here. If I agree to trade anything, it sets a bad precedent. If we continue to work together in the future, you could just pocket things during our travels and attempt to charge or extort me for things that I’m just as entitled to as you.”
I’ll tip my head conciliatorily as a I continue, “Granted, these items were obtained before we met, but at least Massar would likely be alive had you been more forthcoming and willing to come to an arrangement before now. In spite of all this and the attendant negative implications, I am willing to come to an agreement, though nothing so broad that gives you such power over me.”
At this point, I’ll pause for a pointed look and wait for a response.
Zatha gapes at Rihnan, “You think…why would I…I gave so much to that elf! Without me, he wouldn’t’ave been able tah get into tha city. I even bought him more presentable clothes! To think, you would try and blame his elfish stupidity on me, who got him outta trouble so many times.” Zatha pauses for a moment and sighs.
“Did you know that I had to save him, along with two othahs from goblins in this vehy house? The idiot decided to pull thah damn dooahbell in the middle ah tha night! He just thought it would be fun tah do. I was the one that got us in tha back. And I was the one that told them all tah rahtreat! And what did the blasted elf do when we had finished all the gobbos? Falls down a damn laddah and almost kill hisself!” Zatha shakes his head side to side while relating this last point, clearly not understanding the stupidity of elves and the actions that they take.
“Now I know yah new in this group, and still a bit wet behind those pointy eahs ah yoahs, so I won’t hold this against ya. I also won’t hold the insult of me pilfahing things against ya, since you’ah a elf, and do not undahstand polite compahny.” Zatha rolls his eyes at this point, clearly frustrated by the elf’s lack of understanding.
“Look. I don’t have the things on me that ya want. Ah’m sayin that I can get’m for ya. But why go out of my way to help a cleahly insulting pointy eah like yahself? Theah has ta be somethin in it fah me! I’m not like that bright eyed priest ovah there that just wants the woald to be bettah.”
I stand there listening to the description of events paying half-hearted attention while really thinking about something else entirely. Eventually the halfling finishes.
“Mmm, yes. Very selfless and noble, as has been demonstrated in our previous two encounters and all conversations. I am not looking for charity, but am proposing more of a partnership. If you were to give me this wand, I would be willing to agree to return it to you should we part ways amicably. Any kind of scrolls or spellbook would also be returned if unused. However, I’m also willing to lend a hand should you want to move beyond petty thievery and go for larger game. My current selection of spells is limited, but soon we could attempt some more profitable ventures. I don’t think our other two companions would approve, but this could prove lucrative for us both. And, of course, my confidentiality is assured.”
Zatha narrows his eyes at the elf sensing the change in the game. “With a 75/25 split, I could see such an agreement working.”
“75/25 seems excessive, but I’d be willing to agree to those terms for the first job or two to satisfy your initial investment if desired.”
“Aftah which it becomes sixty fahty. Sounds like a faiah deal tah me.”
“After which, we negotiate depending on the job. If you need a minor cantrip or enchantment, my split will be small. But if you need heavy and active spellcasting/planning, it will be more. It will all depend on how much is needed for the job.”
“Well, Ah’m not entiahly happy with it, but I guess that means it’s a good deal.” Zatha then spits on his hand and holds it out to the elf.
I’ll eye the halfling’s hand, sigh, and eventually shake it with an odd look of determination. “All great mages start somewhere,” I’ll say under my breath.
I’ll continue aloud, “Good, that is settled. While we’re in town, I’d like to keep a relatively low profile. The fewer people know or suspect my skill set, the more effective I think we’ll be in our endeavors. I’ve only a few things that would be of assistance currently, but I will actively seek out those spells that I think would aid us.”Zatha
“No wahries theah. I am just the quahtahmastah of this lil group,” Zatha says while winking slyly at the elf.