Captain Todd Makes an Offer

The Surveyors sat down for a meal that had been set up in Captain Hunter Todd’s campaign tent.  Soldiers attended to them as waiters or servants, and the food was top notch for camp food.  Both Aed and Gabe agreed.

Captain Todd took a hearty gulp of his wine, and wiped away unseen spillage with a cloth napkin.  First from his mustache and chin, and then brushing at the front of his uniform.  He chuckled to himself, and then sipped at his wine more carefully.  “So, gentleman.  How you going to spend the money from your…well…your treasure boat?”

Gabe did a spit-take into his wine glass, his eyes getting wide.

Timm leaned forward, his face completely unreadable.  “Treasure boat?  What do you mean?”

Shade sat at Timm’s right elbow.  “You mean that old derelict we cleaned up?  We’re a bit tired of walking…thought running down the river might be nice for a rest.”

The Captain nodded.  “Yes, yes.  I only mean to say, who would be begrudge men of quality from taking advantage of any opportunity that would benefit them, and hurt no one.  A boat full of treasure that no one will miss, would be just such an opportunity.”

Captain Hunter Todd

Captain Todd noticed Shade’s dark glare before the thief could hide it.  There was a tension in the air.  The Captain laughed.  “Seriously now.  I could care less.  War is a life and death matter.  A grim struggle, filled with death and blood and sacrifice.  Mostly for the common soldier though.  Not so much the officers or men with special talents.  For the intelligent man, war is an opportunity.  War shakes up the status quo.  War makes orphans of tracts of land, businesses, and treasure.  If we do not adopt orphans, whatever will happen to them?”

Sympos laughed softly.  And spoke almost to himself between bites of food.  “War makes Rukin a friend to all.  Rukin loves orphans more than anyone.”

Shade had taken his measure of the Captain, and he and Tim exchanged knowing glances.  Shade believed that Captain Todd was being honest about his beliefs.  But, there was something more to it.  Shade decided to take the bait.  “What opportunities have you availed for yourself, Captain?”

The Captain smiled.  “Well, gentleman.  I am a man of rank in the Othamar army.  The Northern Guard to be specific.  So, I can’t really go down the road of gathering a boatload of loot.  I’d say, I’m playing the long game.  Keeping my eye out for an opportunity that takes me from an officer to a landed gentleman if you get my meaning.”

Timm’s own efforts, as of late, to establish a profitable bar in Bassot-Garmon came to mind.  And the Captain’s words drew him in.  “What sort of opportunities would that be, exactly?  If you don’t mind sharing more of your thoughts.”

The Captain leaned forward, putting down his now empty wine glass.  It was clear he was a bit into his cups, and his habitual grimness seemed to have fallen away.  “Take this town for instance.  Riverbend.  Not much to look at really.  One temple, four or five taverns, two general stores, good fishing in the river…probably a good life for someone willing to work hard.  But, they’re all dead.  Gone.  And so the little town sits empty on the shores of the river.  Now, one might think, what benefit is an empty town?  A quiet little one in the country, at that.”

Captain Todd paused, looking to each of his fellow diners, and then continued.  “Riverbend is a sleepy little town in the North.  But, that is in an Othamar that was isolated for 500 years.  An Othamar with no over-land trade routes to the North for 500 years.  But, look gentlemen…what is that to our North now?  A huge densely populated Empire of artisans, miners, farmers, craftsman, and consumers of every form of goods known to man.  There will be trade routes to the North.  In less than a year, at least three will be established.  And what of Riverbend?  Right on a little road that leads North.  With a big wide bridge across the river.  So, this dumpy little town, empty and dead, is in the exact right place, and with a real jump start on making some folks very rich.”

Shade stared toward the North, as though seeing the future that Captain Todd described.  “So, you just take the town for yourself?  That’s your plan?  Mayor of Riverbend?”

“No, no…of course not.  But, when I meet enterprising fellows like yourselves, it occurs to me that we could all be doing so much better if we were a little more forward thinking.  As a hypothetical, let’s take a little group…similar to your own.  What if that group had a friend and benefactor in the Northern Guard.  A friend that could help them secure a toll license on an emerging trade route to the North.  What if that friend knew people that could advise this little group…mentor them along the way.  I mean, that would be worth something for the friend in the Northern Guard.”


Timm smiled.  “Worth what?”

The Captain shrugged.  “15 percent let’s say, just so our hypothetical friend could agree to 10 percent after some friendly negotiations.”

Aed had been nibbling lightly at his food, taking this all in.  “This hypothetical of yours, Captain…is it all a parlor game.  Making pretty words that are meant to impress us.  Or are you being serious?”

Captain Todd poured wine in his glass until is over-ran a bit.  And then took a big drink.  “Oh, I’m serious.  Everything I’ve said is possible.  It would be a risk.  It would be hard.  There would be serious challenges.  But, yeah…I’m serious.  No obligations here, gentlemen.  But, I do need to know.  There is a window of opportunity here.  Yes or No.  Are you little group in my hypothetical, or do I keep looking?”


    • Mark Stinson

      We can have this conversation with Captain Todd at the game.  Good way to start things off.  :-)


      • Marcus Auerilius

        Timm picked his tooth with the better half of a wishbone dislodging a stingy bit of green something before responding to Captain Todd’s offer.

        “What you say sounds very good, but the best thing about your offer, is the opportunity to work together. Perhaps it is this deal that you have brought to us. Perhaps it is another that we haven’t realized yet…I don’t know. What I do know is that I have a few questions. Like, what is involved in having a “toll license”? Do you have similar arrangements with other groups? Are you ambitious; want to climb the ranks further? Does the relationship move with promotions…on either side? Do we need a toll license from both empires? Can we secure a “first right of refusal” on toll licenses in all of the northern area that lead to areas that were previously blocked? Why just the toll license in Riverbend? Why not zoning, or whatever repopulating a town is called. These are just a few of my questions, but we have time. Our very lightly packed and meager long ship is well tended and we are in no such hurry as to leave business unattended...perhaps another round of drinks, if it’s not getting too late.” Timm seemed to say in a single long breath, serious at first and large grin at conclusion.

        <Not by saying it directly, but by paying “attention to detail” Timm will make sure the business negotiations take a good amount of time to work out. Anywhere between equitable and grossly in our favor is an acceptable arrangement. 😊 While alone with the party, Timm will say the offer looks excellent and very profitable, but he doesn’t want to be tied down in Riverbend. It’s too far from the sea…but he’s brought up trade routes and profiting from them before we went to Othamar so he is very into the idea. “Let’s find a way to make this work” would be his attitude.>

        • Mark Stinson

          "I was a foot soldier when I started out.  Just 16 years old.  Didn't want to spent my life with soil beneath my fingernails, a sore back, and nothing to show for it.  I worked my way up through the ranks.  Watched good men struck down in their prime.  I'll fight.  I've been fighting for better part of 20 odd years."

          "We'll be partners in this.  You'll have a friend in the command staff of the Northern Guard.  A friend that knows how to navigate the bureaucracy.  And yes, when push comes to shove, we'll have each other's backs."

          "The goal here though is to put a round peg through a round hole.  We put ourselves in the right place, at the right time.  We take advantage of the opportunity.  We stay above board as much as possible.  There is money to be made...a fortune...without having to bloody our weapons everyday."

          • Chris Snevets

            Shade looks around the tent to make sure the guards hadn't returned from being dismissed and asks, "I need to know how deep you are willing to go. I for one won't go down without a fight, if it comes to that. Will you have our back if things go south? That would be worth a measure of comfort for your part."

            • Mark Stinson

              NOTE FROM THE DM:  This is as it appears in the story, a serious offer on the part of Captain Hunter Todd.  But, as it says in the obligations.  That, more than anything is a note from the DM.  If you would be interested in the offer, then let's explore it.  If you would not be interested, then it will be dropped.  I don't have an expectation one way or another.  It is simply an opportunity...not something I'm married to.  :-)