Uktar 17, 1491 DR
Rosche Uskevren surveyed the fledgling trading house he and Orlose Cherboga had thrown together, almost overnight. The exhiled Sembian understood his dwarven companion, Orsic's, sense of urgency to locate his missing family members. It would have been nice to be able to take a couple days to have a proper set up, but Roche would share Orsic's driving desire for discovery were it his own family member that had gone missing. Even still, the make-shift stalls were secured by heavy locks and, for the most part, the manner ruins were now covered by whatever tarps, animal skins, and even a repurpsoed sail (Which Rosche was surprised to find for sale considering how far inland Phandalin was.) Orlose had said that Mirna and Nilsa had taken to instruction well, and the fighter was confident that the women would be more than capable of running the basics of the trading house while he and Rosche were away. Rosche would have been more reticent were the initial goods more complex, however, at Sildar's request, the Hillcrest Trading House would deal primarily in the importation, exportation, and distribution of raw goods. This meant fairly simple inventories and minimal book keeping, which is about the only way Rosche was going to let his first enterprise be managed by proxy.
Rosche's mental preparations were interrupted as Hadarai entered the covered area of the ruins. The elf was favoring some of his ribs with one arm, and had polished Darkwood box under his other. Hadarai wince-smiled at Rosche revealing a split lip and what would almost assuredly be a black eye. Rosche had seen this type of beating before in Sembia. Certain issuers of debt will use these type of "reminders" with borrowers if they fear that the borrower may be delinquent in payment. Hadarai owed money to both Rosche and Orlose, and evidently other, less understanding parties as well.
"I discovered this outside," Hadarai said curiously, holding up the box under his arm. "Had we a door, it would have been laid upon our doorstep. Very mysterious."
Hadarai flipped the box with a dismissive gesture, letting his eldritch hand guide the parcel towards Rosche. At first mildly intrigued, Rosche was suddenly startled to notice that there was a platinum embossed pattern on the lid that looked remarkably similar to the tattoo upon his chest. Rosche refocused himself quickly, not wanting to show his alarm at the recognition of the strange symbol.
No sooner had Roche taken the weight of the box then Hadarai's mage hand had pulled open the polished black lid. Rosche could only flinch before breathing a sigh of relief. He wondered how sheltered the elf's upbringing must have been that he would just open the lid of clandestinely delivered package left on his "doorstep". Rosche seemed to be intact, and not polymorphed into a slug, so he looked into the contents of the box.
The black box bore a gold velvet lining that sparkled in the light of the ruin. Nestled inside the box was one of the finest sets of merchant's scales Rosche had seen, even in the trading houses of Sembia, a simple scroll tube of the same Darkwood as the box bearing an unbroken red wax seal with the same symbol on the lid, and a bottle of sparkling wine of excellent Eversultian vintage.
Rosche set the box down in front of him, only half paying attention as Hadarai's mage hand deftly lifted the bottle from the box. Breaking the scroll and unrolling the parchment, Rosche only slightly registered Hadarai calling to Droop for what he guessed was the fetching of goblets, although he didn't speak the goblin's native tongue as Hadari did. Rosche all but ignored the stream of muttering curses that issued from below as Droop begun undergoing his task.
Unrolling the fine piece of vellum, Rosche began to read the scroll. The writing was in a flowing and neat script:
To Rosche Uskerven of the Hillcrest Trading House,
Let us offer our most heartfelt congratulations on this, your first step towards your destiny.
Rosche scanned the missive a few times, looking to see if there was anything more. The salutation had not even been signed. He held the vellum up to the sunlight, having heard of missives that come sometimes only be read under certain types of light. He pawed through the box to see if there was anything else contained within.
A loud "pop" startled Rosche. He looked up to see Hadarai with the bottle of wine, the contents foaming from the mouth of the bottle down the neck. The elf smiled as he poured a goblet and and sent it Rosche's way with his mage hand.
"What does the scroll say?" Hadarai asked after taking a sip of his own goblet. He hissed as he inhaled, the alcohol no doubt stinging his split lip.
Rosche snatched the goblet from the air in front of him, more ot get it our of his face then to consume it. Despite all the distraction, the wine smelled full, and sweet, and the bubbles looked pleasing amidst the amber liquid. "Not much," Roche replied before taking a sip himself. The drought he sipped was warm, and floral, and he was quick to take another sip.
"Interesting choice to use that symbol," Hadarai said absently, swirling his own goblet.
Rosche nearly spit out his second sip in surprise. He gulped, and the warmth of the wine turned into a burn, as if offended at being consumed in such a fashion. "You know it?" Rosche croaked.
"Of course," Hadarai said somehow not sounding smug, but still pedantic. "You are of course familiar with the god Denir. Centuries ago some rather fervent followers of the scribe of my lord, Oghma, believed that there were glyphs that could represent important concepts of existence. They believed that the concepts could be realized as glyphs, and the glyphs, manifested correctly could communicate some of the fundamental concepts of a society or race, despite language barrier. It was theorized that these "weighted concepts" as they called them, were so universal that anyone, or anything, that saw the glyph would know exactly what the glyph was meant to express."
Rosche had all but forgotten his wine, setting the goblet down absently. All this time there had been so many questions, and now, just at random, this parcel appears, and his companion of nearly a week has insight into the enigma that has plagued the exile for years. Could this random turn of events be a blessing from Tymora?
"The glyphs were all the rage for a time," Hadarai continued. "War, Conquest, and Passion glyphs found their way into many works of art, tattoos, and even some families that rose to prominence during this period. Yet for the most part, the school of thought was eventually dissolved by rhetoricians that argued that a gnoll and halfling did not have the same sense of "love" therefore they could not look at glyph and see that it meant the same thing. There was actually a fairly stunning discourse around the assertions of the Denrites, as chronicled by some the preminnet sages of the time, which would go on to inform the thinking at the crux of Thace'y'iksis's Morality Pogrom and, though he would never admit it, Gver'uk's Theory of Modulated Emotional Accessibility. The former was, of course a tragedy, though at its core had some interesting structure when it came to usurpation of dominant thought paradigms as held by the-"
"But this glyph!" Roche's head was spinning enough as is, it didn't need to endure Hadarai's dizzying dissertations of the banalities of scholars of which Rosche had never heard of. Roche snapped the Darkwood box closed, thrusting the lid side towards Hadari. The silver glyph stood out against the black lacquered wood like a beacon.
Hadarai raised a single eyebrow at Rosche's sudden emphatic engagement in a subject so few would normally find intriguing.
"Well," Roche continued, lifting the box into the air with his mage hand and flipping it to face Roche. "The most simple translation is "commerce". However that is like translating the word "sword" to be "weapon". See, here?" Hadarai indicated to the pattern.
"Either side mirrors the other, save how the lines are emboldened after intersection with their counter part. This implies that both sides of the pattern are strengthened by the interaction with one another. Or that both sides mutually benefit from the transaction. In this instance, the benefit is a visual representation of strength, as illustrated by the emboldened and more powerful lines. In summation, this symbol is more a representation of the ideal of equitable commerce. A commerce predicated on both parties being better off for having engaged in the activity, and growing equally in strength, becoming more whole if you will, for participating in the transaction. Would that there were more in the world that saw commerce in such a fashion," Hadarai mused, gently probing his newly battered ribs.
"I see," Roche said. Snatching the box from the air and tucking it under his arm. "I need to attend to something below."
Roche needed to be work through everything that had happened in so short a time. He vaguely registered a greeting as Orlose passed him coming up, as he was going down.
Orlose heaved himself topside looking quizzically after Roche as he descended.
"Droop was complaining about have to fetch goblets. Is there wine?" The fighter asked, smiling at Hadari.