“Open up, Tinker,” the block Warden knocked again, “I can hear you in there.”
Tinker stepped over and pulled the door open to reveal the block Warden, Cyril. Disheveled hair matched a uniform consisting of rumpled pants too long for his legs, and a coat with frayed epaulets that crowned grease stained sleeves. He reeked of sour beer.
Cyril strode into the room like the Sun King himself, his eyes sweeping back and forth in mock inspection until he caught sight of Glance. “So, is the going price for a girl a bit of old bread and a swig,” he leered, “or is that all she’s worth?”
Glance’s face started burning, but she had enough sense to ignore the drunkard’s taunt. Tinker raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, letting the comment flow over him.
“Your watch is ready,” he said. “I finished it up just a little while ago.”
Tinker picked the watch off the bench surface and handed it over. The boorish Warden’s face broke into a wide smile as he saw the second hand moving in steady rhythm. The boys down at the post were right, Tinker could fix anything.
Cyril’s face turned wistful. “Ah, this watch has been in the family a long time. I’m glad to be having it back good as new. What’s the charge.”
“Two silver pins, as agreed.”
The Warden’s face set hard again, and he looked over at Glance. She sat with her head down, concentrating on her meal. “Well, let’s see now,” Cyril hedged, “it looks to me like your lady friend here is underage. It wouldn’t do your business any favors if I had to haul you in, now would it? Let’s just call it even and I’ll forget I ever saw her.”
Glance froze in place. Never mind the accusation wasn’t true, a Warden’s word was as good as truth to an imperial magistrate. If Cyril brought up the charge against Tinker, it would stick.
Tinker never lost his calm. Instead he played his ace in the hole. “I’d think you’d rather pay me considering the danger involved.”
“Danger?” the Warden scoffed. “What danger?”
“The danger inherent in tracking down such rare parts. Seems to me we would both suffer if word got out.”
Cyril narrowed his bloodshot eyes, confirming to Tinker that he knew of the watch’s special quality. Possession of a sunstone was one of the few accusations a commoner could make against a Warden and be taken seriously, especially one of low rank. There were enough legitimate cases of Wardens hoarding illegal artifacts that came before the court to make it a known practice. Unless he was willing to murder Tinker here and now, Cyril was bound to silence.
Cyril shoved his hand in his pocket and pulled out two sliver pins. He slapped them down on the table with a grunt, startling Glance enough to make her jump in her chair. Throwing her a leering smile he turned to leave.
“Thank you, Warden,” Tinker said. “I hope we can do business together again sometime.”
Cyril stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “For both our sakes, pray you never see me again.” He stomped away down the hall toward the stairs.
Tinker closed and locked his door, then turned around with a smug grin on his face. He tossed one of the silver pins Glance’s way and she snatched it out of the air in surprise.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“Hazard pay,” he said. “Now there’s a Warden who knows exactly what you look like.”