DC/RH BK II, CH 32: Bookkeeping

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Chapter Thirty-two: Bookkeeping

Utir sat in the room, slowly pouring over the books with his son. They had been lucky. In five runs, they had made out with two of the fifth-floor skill slates. His secondary teams were also doing well, they only lost one person this week and that was to the wisps on the third floor. Right now, they had clearing the first and second floors down to an art. If you could challenge the fourth floor more than once, you’d bet that he’d be rolling in spatial rings by now. The scarred old adventurer couldn’t help but be proud. 

If you’d told him a year ago that he’d become the head of an entire adventuring operation, Utir would never have believed you but now… he had not one but three elite teams of adventurers, near fifty people in all, plus, a full-time support staff of two score individuals handling the cooking, cleaning, repairing of gear, general sales and procurement all so he and his men could focus on delving the dungeon as much as possible, as fast as possible. It was incredible, he had never felt so important, so powerful or so rich. Just the other day, he was called in by the Ward—Guildmaster for a private meeting with the top adventuring groups. Utir never thought he’d see the day when his words — the words of a lowly fifth-rank adventurer— mattered in guild policy but it had come all the same.

It was also too much to handle.

“We’ve overspent!” his son concluded. “Again!”

The old bear groaned. He’d suspected as much. “You’re sure?” he asked for asking sake.

“Very sure”, Argoth affirmed. “Either that or someone is skimming. I can’t quite tell since we only get general reports. We’ve spent more on food and booze and weapons than we ever spent before we came to these hills.”

“You’re sure it’s not just the prices?” Utir asked. Black Briar Town was pretty expensive. The high traffic of adventurers and the constant flow of wealth from the dungeon meant inflation was so high, he often baulked at the prices he saw when he walked the streets.

His son frowned, feeling insulted by his questions. “I’ve done the maths, Da! Feel free to check” 

“We’re still in the clear this moon but we seriously need to cut down on our costs. Right now, we’re paying for twice our men in groceries and other sundries.”

Utir looked at the jumbled mass of papers and grabbed a fist full of his own hair. This was his fault. Drunk on fame and fortune, they’d expanded too quickly. The results were good but the organisation was a mess. Him stupidly fueling their habit of feasting and partying had only exacerbated the problem. If he was reading this right, Utir’s Bears had managed to rack up a ten thousand gold tab in the town’s most expensive brothel over the course of a fortnight.  

“How much do we have?” he asked, already dreading the answer.

“Not much in real gold but a lot in terms of dungeon loot. We’re looking at maybe eight thousand gold left in the coffers if we pay this month’s tabs but I’d say we made close to thirteen thousand in our last fifth-floor run not counting the skill slate. We sell that we could have another fifty-thousand”, Argoth told him. “We do that we’ll have enough to pay the men come new moon and then some but if we’re going to do that, we best do it fast though. There are only three slates, we have two. Vacal’s Lanterns have the other. No one has sold yet but once they start appearing on the market, prices might dip.”

Utir shook his head. Argoth was too young and inexperienced to understand. Those skill slates weren’t something you sold for gold. You either used them yourself or you traded them for high-level favours. He was waiting to do the latter. Word was spreading and he already had a few offers. If push came to shove, he’d sell to the guild for the benefits. The goal here was to cement his legacy and find his son backers that would take care of him when he inevitably passed. The idea for this new adventuring troop was much the same. 

The old bear sighed, accepting his fate. “Remind me to talk to the taverns and inns.” 

“I can’t believe this”, he said reaching for another bill. “From now on, we set a limit on the tabs. We’ll cover two inns only; the guild tavern and the Delver’s Choice. No spending beyond a certain amount each night or each moon. Also, no tabs in the whorehouses. If the men want to get their dicks wet, they should use their own money. We’re paying them enough.”

Argoth nodded. He agreed. “Some discipline would be good!”  

His father grumbled under his breath, looking through the papers. His eyes caught a line on a half-scribbled sheet. “Hold on! You said something about weapons?”

“Yes!” his son confirmed, looking up from the table. “Why?”

“Did we buy or repair?”

Argoth shuffled through the papers on his end. “We bought three thousand gold worth of weapons and armour from Kari’s Armoury. Why?”

Utir’s empty hand clenched in rage. “Let me guess, the request and tab were from Burni?”

Sensing that something was wrong, his son pulled out the bill. Searching through it with his finger, he found what he was looking for. “This says it went to team two so yes, Burni.”

“SON OF A BITCH!” Utir screamed slamming a hole into the table with a furious hammer hand.

Argoth quickly leaned forward and grabbed the table to stop it from collapsing while listening to his father spew a litany of curses. “I take it he’s skimming?” 

Skimming was far from the right word. This was outright theft. 

“That bastard came up to me two weeks ago and complained about the second squad’s gear so I gave him some backup dungeon pieces.”

his son grew even more worried. “Which ones?” 

“Just the fine pieces we scrounged up on the upper floors and some of the weapons we got from the hobbe armoury”, the old bear, said dismissively his heaving chest said it was anything but. 

With things as they were, those pieces were worth maybe a thousand, eight hundred gold maybe over two thousand, two hundred if you sold them far away from the dungeon town. Compared to the money running through his hands lately, it was chump change but the principle of it got to him. Utir had let those pieces out of his hands because he thought he was improving the efficiency of the secondary team. Right now, he was wondering how many of those pieces even made it to the men, if any. 10 gold said that the gear Burni ordered also never made it to his bears. The bastard had played him like a fiddle.

“Take it easy, Da!” his son said, trying to calm him down. “Why don’t you keep going through the books? If Burni is skimming, he’s not the only one. In the meantime. I’ll find Burni and bring him here to explain himself.”

“EXPLAIN?” Utir yelled angrily. “What’s explaining going to do? I want you to drag him through the streets by his balls until he coughs up our gold.”

“Alright, Da!” Argoth acknowledged with a nod. “Just stay here, I’ll head out with some of the boys and have him and his men brought back here in no time.”

 With a wave, his son was off, leaving Utir alone to scan through the books. 

Things had to change, the old man realised. Keeping to a loose system had only hurt them. Previously, that worked because he worked mostly with family and friends, people he’d known for years. The dungeon had changed that. The pressure to perform and the need for skilled warriors meant he was forced to sideline some of his oldest companions, leaving them to handle support while he and his new fighters delved for loot. Circumstances had just shown that even with the lavish salaries he gave them and the support and catering, these new hires were far from loyal.

It was his fault. He’d expected things to just continue in the same vein. He should have put more measures in place to prevent this exact scenario from happening. Memories of what seemed like a lifetime ago, of his time in the army came back to him. Yes! From now on, he’d run the men more like an army, with strict rules and disci—

Suddenly, the door blew open. Whirling around with his hand at his axe, Utir turned and saw his son, dishevelled and sweaty. 

That was fast!

“DA! DA!” his son called out, spilling into the room with at least half a dozen men. Burni was not one of them. 

“The guildsmen are back from their delve”, Argoth said with a frenzied grin. “You’re not going to believe this!”

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