“Egads man! What are you doing? You have no idea where that finger has been!” I shouted.

“Just as I suspected!” he crooned. “A salt smuggler!”

“A what?” I questioned.

“You are a no good salt smuggler!” he said with a sneer.

“A salt smuggler? What the blazes are you talking about?” I asked.

“This right here!” he said, letting the grains fall through his fingers. “Oh, we’ve seen plenty of people like you, but you aren’t bringing this into our city. Not on your life.”

“It’s salt?” I asked.

“Indeed it is. Like you didn’t know.”

“Very well, I’m sure we can sweep it back up and sift out the chunky bits. It might not be the best course of action, but we could dress it up with a bit of flour and hope the recipient is none the wiser.”

“We will do no such thing!” the guard bellowed. “You will most certainly be coming with us, and this filth will definitely be confiscated.” He looked far too triumphant.

“Confiscated? I highly disagree. If you take the possessions I am entrusted with, without paying coins or at the very least, bartering for them, I call that thievery!” I emphasized my words with a great deal of finger pointing.

“Are you calling me a thief?” he barked at me.

“If you take my goods without proper compensation I am.”

“Salt is a controlled substance and you are breaking the law by bringing it in here!” the guard snapped back at me.

“Controlled substance? Breaking the law? It’s salt you complete imbecile! It’s one of the most abundant minerals in the realm! The recipient probably has a robust stock of venison or swine to cure.”

“Shows how much you know,” he said smugly. “Due to it’s debilitating health hazards, the governor’s wife has banned it from town. It isn’t to be imported and you have been caught, ‘en flagrante delicto’, as they say.”

“What? Who says such a thing?” I retorted. “This is both outrageous and foolish! It’s salt! It’s not like I’ve looted The Epitaph and am trying to sell ancient antiquities!”

“Nobody cares about that sort of thing,” he commented.

“Oh? Really? Good to know. I will keep that in mind,” I said making a mental note. “Very well, what is the fine so I can pay and be on my way! This is my first commission and you are jeopardizing my future employment!” I reached for my meager bag of coins.

“The penalty is execution,” he stated.

“Execution? Holy Halmar’s teeth! That seems a bit steep!” I protested.

He pondered. “Execution of jail time,” he corrected.

“While that is better,” I agreed, “I still can’t comply. This foolishness with the salt simply doesn’t hold suet with me. Further, you owe me a new horse. Look what you’ve done.” I pointed at the horse still lying in the street wondering what it had done to deserve such ill treatment.

The guard disregarded my protest, produced his manacles and attempted to clap me in irons. I showed my own protestation with steel and knocked him back. Through quick thinking, I jumped to the cart, from there to the crates and made a desperate leap to the city gates.

Realizing a guard with a savage looking Pike was on duty whose attention had been drawn by the commotion, I changed my plan mid-stride and made my way to the market square. Within a suitable alley or hiding spot I could figure out who ordered this contraband salt and perhaps seek sanctuary.

Regrettably, upon hearing my approach and call of the guards, the Fishmonger, turned to see the nature of the disturbance. The large fish or sea monster he was carrying, pivoted wildly and collected me in the face, it’s vicious scales inflicting terrible wounds.

The good news is, the city water well broke my fall. The bad news is, the salt stash was ultimately confiscated and thrown in the river, a levy has been placed against me for a broken well bucket, for poisoning the water supply, for public bathing in an improper vessel, for destruction of one large fish, for the willful endangerment of a horse that did not belong to me, and for the transportation and disbursement of salt. This last charge lead to an attempted poisoning charge and a strongly worded and rather embarrassing scolding by the governor’s wife. Her slap to my fishmonger abused face is not something I will soon forget.

The salt charges were ultimately dropped due to the fact I was merely the transporter and because of my counter-claim regarding horse abuse at the hands of the guard. They did press hard to get the name of the salt grinder, but I felt it best to keep quiet about such matters. Anton is quite handy with the hook and I will have enough problems explaining how I lost a shipment on my first cargo run. I’m quite sure I’m unemployed again.

fini

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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