"So," said the unkempt man, scratching himself, "you want us hidden in the balcony, until it happens, right?"
Rainald Lazaliez, still in the middle of regarding the man before him skeptically, managed a nod. "Correct." The sense of unease he felt at letting this man into his private quarters in Orgagna was growing steadily--already, he was strongly considering have his room scrubbed for fleas as soon as his guest was gone.
"And then we all come out, and do our job, and that's that?," continued the man.
"Again, correct," said the Duke of Montalban.
The man considered it for a moment. "It'll cost extra," he said at last.
Rainald rolled his eyes. He'd been expexting this, but it didn't change how annoying it was. "How much extra?" he asked.
"Well, let's see..." The man looked up at the heavens, in the middle of some profound arithmatic that lesser minds, like the Duke of Montalban, could not comprehend. "You'll need fifteen of us, for us to work... Thirty to guarantee it... So..." He gave a nod. "Sixty silver marks, at least," declared the man. "One hundred-twenty to be sure. And trust me, you wish to be sure."
Rainald regarded the man as if he were mad. "Sixty silver marks..."
"One hundred-twenty to..." began the man.
"Be sure, yes," said Rainald. "I'm finding I'm dubious of the virtues of surety, in this case."
The man gave a haughty sniff. "People always say that when I mention prices. Always, they're convinced they can cut corners in these things. And always they are wrong--dead wrong! Thirty people--the only acceptable number for an undertaking of this magnitude." The man spat and gave another scratch. "Anything else would be criminal negilgence."
"It's a lot of money," pointed out Rainald.
"And they'll be sitting there, cramped, for a long time," answered the man. "These men are artists--consider their pride."
"Then perhaps we should consider hiring someone less proud," said the Duke.
"Would they be Guild-trained, and Guild-certified?" snapped the man. "I think not. A hundred-twenty marks. That is your option. Or you get no help for us, and us loudly shouting in the street of how niggardly the House of Lazaliez has become."
"You wouldn't..." began Rainald.
"I didn't get where I am by making idle threats," said the man calmly. "A hundred-twenty marks."
Rainald turned to his dresser. "Fine, I'll write out a bill for you," he muttered, heading to his dresser for the paper and ink. He'd just sealed it, when his sister rushed in the room. "Oh, Rainald, it is so good to see you a..." She glanced at the man. "Umm... hello."
The man gave a nod as Rainald handed him the bill of exchange. "Evening, milady." He turned and headed to the door.
Amante watched him leave, nose wrinkled in disgust, though Rainald wasn't sure if that was from the man's appearance, or odor. "Who was that?"
Rainald felt a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach that made him question once again this present action, for all the talk of 'necessity' that surrounded it. "A musician," he said, at last.