Submitted by Kaarin on Sat, 03/12/2011 - 18:44
Finding the Grathoki Market proved as easy as it usually did. Long experience taught Jasmin how to deal with them in her own way: they would drive a harder bargain with her, but still be fair. One simply had to remember that one paid for everything obtained from them; and so finding out where a bookseller who dealt in certain books might be based was as simple as finding one who knew where specific sellers did business, and giving him a small fee upfront for the location.
Jasmin pulled her car onto the side of the street, paying the parking meter, as she went into the used book store. A man looked up from behind the counter as she came in, glasses resting on his head. “Can I help you, miss?”
She kept her voice light and cheerful as she spoke. “I'm here to see Mr. Grath about a book.”
The other watched her, and nodded, pointing towards a door. “Through there. Make sure you remain polite.” Jasmin nodded, leaving a small payment on the counter, then adding a second bill to the side. “I don't understand. What's this for?”
“Your discresion in not mentioning I was here.” He nodded, as she passed through to the next area beyond. It wasn't busy tonight, but the books here were bound in a variety of materials, many of them quite old in appearance. She waited patiently for her turn to talk to the Grathoki dealer, whose name nobody, it seemed, could afford to buy aside from calling him merely, “Mr. Grath.”
When she finally reached him, he did a momentary recoil, veiny blue-skin striking her immediately. “You, vampire. What brings you here?”
The woman looked about the books, and back towards the dealer. “Something I am attempting to acquire. I have been told that you have a reputation for locating hard-to-find texts. Name your price and time.”
“How long, depends on offer. How much, depends on what.”
Jasmin smiled to herself. Of course, he wasn't going to reveal his cards first. It needed a baseline. “I am told that you have access to texts from the Watcher's Council.”
That got the Grathoki's attention fully on her. Vampires, as a rule, tried not to attract that kind of attention. Not without an angle, or something important. Immediately, in his head, the Grathoki jacked up his price accordingly. “Council texts highly sought. Very dangerous to have. That will cost you more.”
“I understand that,” she spoke evenly, almost biting out the word. Now began the dance, of letting the Grathoki know that she wasn't trying to fleece it, appearing desperate enough to pay the undoubtedly high fee. Moving to his shop desk, she drummed her fingers lightly. “The text that I am looking for was reportedly recovered in the fifteenth century. Written by a vampire named Kadmus.”
“Kadmus, Kadmus....” the Grathoki spoke. “The name sounds familiar. Religious context, I believe?”
She smiled to him lightly. At the very least, it meant he was familiar with the contents of what she was looking for. “There is a book of his that I would like to acquire.”
“Very dangerous book, that is.” It considered her more closely now, studiously, with a knowing look. “If one had knowledge of such a book, it is one whose value would be registered in the tens of thousands, minimum.”
“If one had such a knowledge,” she repeated, considering him. She patted the oversized purse she carried. She calculated out the likely price in her head, and felt her heart sink. This would, she knew, run into the kind of cash that she couldn't easily move without drawing attention. Not that quickly. No, she would have to trade.
Jasmin reached into her purse, pulling out a book wrapped in brown paper. “If one had the work of a Watcher, could one acquire it?” The Grathoki reached out for the book, but she pulled back. “I show you mine if you show me yours.”
It considered her again, before moving down several shelves, and recovering a book bound in leather, bringing it back. The Grathoki opened the first pages as she looked over it. The two traded books, each looking through the initial pages. Finally, the Grathoki spoke up. “You offering a trade, of book for book?”
“And money,” she added hastily, making a couple hundred dollars appear on the table. “I trust you won't speak of how you acquired that tome, yes?”
The Grathoki smiled. “No. This one much more valuable. Much.”
“Only to you,” she returned, slipping the book into her bag. As she left the place, she felt surprised and elated, felt guided by fate, as she made her way out to the car. A sense of elation ran through her as well.