Razboom wasn't sure who to hate more… The Shadow Trader for sending him once more into Alliance territory, or the Bilgewater Cartel for joining the Horde and making Alliance territory so dangerous to goblinkind. Maybe he should just hate Thrall for his power play that annexed Bilgewater into the Horde. In any case, he once again assured himself of the Trader's competence in making arrangements for his safety, tightened his belt, and started toward the road into Lakeshire.

 

The Alliance guards on the road, stationed around a bridge leading into the township, spotted him almost immediately. The two humans, a man and woman, drew swords but hesitated when he put his hands up.

 

"Wait! Wait!" he shouted. "I'm here on business. Magistrate Solomon is expecting me."

 

The guards exchanged confused looks, but their blades remained pointed in his direction. Clearly they hadn't heard about this.

 

"Hoffman!" the woman called over her shoulder. "Over here!"

 

Shortly, a third soldier came running from the other side of the bridge. His eyes narrowed upon seeing Razboom.

 

"Go and see if Magistrate Solomon is expecting a goblin," the woman ordered. She then turned to look back at Razboom. "Other than on a silver platter, that is."

 

Ignoring the threat, Razboom caught the third soldier's eye. "Razboom Crankshaft of the Razboom Cartel."

 

The soldier gave a swift nod of his head that could only come from a military man, and hurried off across the bridge.

 

* * *

 

"That's some hospitality out there at the bridge, magistrate," Razboom said, settling into a chair.

 

"What would you expect? Tea?" Solomon retorted, sitting across from him. "I'm hearing you out as a gesture of gratitude, nothing more."

 

"Gratitude?"

 

Solomon sighed. "Supplies have always been short in Lakeshire. We were able to get some young upstarts to help us with supplies and some disappearances after the Cataclysm, but it only goes so far. Blackrock orcs and gnolls just never seem to go away. Blades get broken, armor gets battered, and this isn't exactly the best farmland for crops. We get by with the lake's fish, but they only repopulate so fast. We're in danger of fishing the lake clean."

 

Razboom nodded, listening intently. "So where does the gratitude come in?"

 

Solomon continued. "Your employer, I assume, sent a generous donation to us not long ago. Enough to keep our town going for months, and get us eating something other than fish. That'll buy enough time for the lake's fish to repopulate."

 

"So my employer buys your town time, and in return asks you to meet with me."

 

Solomon nodded. "Exactly. Though I wonder if I've made a deal with the devil."

 

"And yet you trust me," Razboom noted.

 

Solomon looked shocked. "Me, trust you, a goblin I've only just met? You must be insane!"

 

Razboom steepled his fingers. "Well, you did just tell me your village's needs. An enemy tactician might call them your village's weaknesses." This revelation widened the magistrate's eyes in horror. "You don't just do that to someone you don't trust. Clearly you do trust me, if only because of the generosity of my employer."

 

Solomon's old eyes grew sharp with wariness. "What are your employer's demands?"

 

Razboom shrugged and shook his head with a chuckle. This made no sense. If the Trader was a goblin, he had to be downright mad. Where was the profit in this? "Nothing," he answered. "There are no demands. My employer sent me, actually, to ask what it is that you need."

 

Solomon's eyes relaxed a little. "A long-term solution. We need commerce and trade here. It's too isolated. Getting trade flowing will revitalize the town, and bring in supplies and food."

 

Razboom nodded. Now he understood why the Shadow Trader had sent him for this. This was what he was good at. A grin crossed his face. "You need a market." He took out a pen and paper, and began scrawling notes.

 

"Exactly!" Solomon said. "But, no offense, there would have to be someone I could trust running it, or at least helping in some fashion to make sure the town isn't swindled out of every copper."

 

Razboom grimaced, but still making notes. "Right. Goblins usually tend to not fit that bill, eh? Well, worry not. We'll get your man plugged into it and make sure he has access to all the records needed. Did you have someone in mind?"

 

Solomon's lips curled into a grin. "Have you heard of… Toddles McGear McSprocket?"

Author Rann
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