3 Vhalar, 719
The Northside Orphanage wasn't the sort of place for those looking to rest. Within a single morning, Llyr found himself sent back and forth from task to task. By mid-trial, his muscles ached but in different ways than all those sparring matches from the later part of Ymiden and some of Saun. It was a different sort of exercise required to haul water and supplies about. He almost found himself grateful when set to the job of combing through the orphan's hair to search for lice and other possible things of concern.
He hadn't seen Madam Miller since when he'd first arrived and he wondered if she'd slipped away. Maybe she would just work him, entertain his notion that she might join his hope for a business, and then deny him. Or worse, tell others about what he planned for. He'd worried that Lochlann might do the same, but every trial he felt a little more assured in his trust of the other man. He hoped that Miller would prove the same. It was partly why he'd chosen her from the list of names and short descriptions that he'd gathered in the late of Saun. Madam Miller had a wonderful reputation... for what he needed in a shopkeep, that was.
But not if he didn't get to talk to her or convince her about that. Sure, he needed things to offer and he had them. He doubted the woman liked having to walk all over the orphanage while working there. Lochlann had informed him that her other jobs that she worked had gotten hit by Lisirra's assault, a lot of people dying from the plagues and then the wars that otherwise would have been keeping her employed. It was becoming a familiar story, and while it was unfortunate, Llyr recognized the opportunity.
He had money after all. Not a lot, but once he secured the final parts of his loans... more than most. The bank had settled a promised amount, and he had his eye on an abandoned shop in the Comm'Ring for the concept of his idea. He needed people though. His network was too small for his tastes. It needed to be nourished so it could grow by the time the new cycle rolled around.
Llyr finished with the combing, working alongside a couple women closer to his age, and then helped wash the orphans hair.
He escaped once everything was finished and the orphans were back in their little groups to attend tutoring sessions. Llyr slipped to the back courtyard of Northside, and he sneaked a cigarette out of the satchel on his belt.
Smoking, he leaned against the building and stared up at the clouds that drifted through a mostly blue sky. He sighed. Maybe he was wasting his time here. Perhaps he should have gone about it differently. Maybe a different individual would be better suited, but he'd already spent nearly two trials establishing himself with this one... Llyr didn't want to waste that time spent.
Nearby, the courtyard garden gate swung open. Llyr looked over to see Madam Miller. He fixed his posture and flicked his cigarette down to stomp it out.
The older woman snorted. "No need to act jumpy. You don't think plenty of you kids don't come out here to do that?"
He cleared his throat and shrugged. "We finished with the nit check. The girls weren't sure what else you w-wanted me to do, so... I figured I'd... uh... wait for you."
"Here," she handed him a basket and then waved for him to follow. "Help gather some radishes and the like. My back hurts too much to bend."
"Of course." He agreed, taking the basket, and headed into the garden area with the woman. Llyr got to his knees, searched through the leafy greens, then started to tug at the root vegetables to pull them out. "Have you given some thought to what I mentioned yestertrial?"
"Still on about that, are ya?" Madam Miller sat at a bench, fixed her shawl, then crossed her arms. "You've made quite the impression on O'no. But he's always had a soft spot for your types."
"I know it's probably doesn't seem all that secure, being that I haven't gotten the building and such. But there's something to be said about that, Madam Miller. You being the head keep of the shop, you could make some calls of your own. You'd be spending most of the time there, so... and if I wanted just someone to be standing around, I could pay a few coppers for just anyone." He tugged at a particularly stubborn radish. Soil flew up into his face once he got it free. He dusted it off, then set it in the basket.
Miller hummed, then she said in her gravely voice, "As secure as anything can be, mostly. Anything can bring down a business that doesn't have plans in place for the unexpected. Even then, can't plan for everything."
"That's exactly the sort of thinking I want to hear," said Llyr. He gestured toward her enthusiastically with a radish. "Whatever wage you want. I'll make sure we earn enough to maintain it."
"You're not very good at this whole negotiation thing, are you, son?" inquired the woman with a raise of her eyebrow.
He shook his head. "It's not that. I don't see taking advantage of what people deserve to be the way I want to operate with my star employees. You'd be a star, Madam Miller. Lochlann'll be one too. You'll get the prime choices, the benefit of everything doing well. The more successful we are, the better off we'll all be."
"And what'll you be doing?" she asked, a slight suspicious tone to her voice.
"Anything and everything that's needed," he answered without pause. He returned to pulling the radishes up. "Understand, I've got a lot of ideas, yes? I don't know all of which will be what works yet. I could guess but then what if I guess wrong? What a waste of time! No, no, I'm going to start with them all and find what does better than the rest and that'll be what we focus on while the rest fall away."
"How're you getting the money for this?"
Llyr hesitated on that question. He dug at the dirt, the soil getting under his nails, then he jimmied the last radish out and set it in the full basket.
Madam Miller followed the unanswered question with another, "Have you ever run a business before?"
"...Sort of." He glanced down, then scratched the back of his head. "I used to help... help my father in my home city. I did most of the paperwork and client transactions, and inventory, and... well, by the end there, most everything that is."
She nodded slowly, then raised a hand and gestured for him to come over. Llyr picked up the basket of radishes, then sat on the bench beside the old woman. Miller clapped him on the knee and said, "You're young. You don't know what you're getting yourself into. But... doesn't mean you can't do well for yourself. I've seen worse go into trade work and come out for the better of it... and I've seen right smart fellahs get all propped up and primed for success, only to make an absolute mess of things and never be heard from again."
Llyr wanted to mention again, this was one of the reasons why he wanted Miller on board. He felt an intuitive sense to keep quiet though.
Madam Miller took the basket from him, then said, "Harvest those squashes over there, any bigger than the palm, and then have one of the girls show you how to water the garden and check for pests. Once you're done with that, go home. Get some rest. Let an old lady contemplate some more."
"Should I come back tomorrow morning?" asked Llyr.
Miller shook her head. "I'll have Lochlann let ya know when I'm ready to talk again, if I want to."
Llyr stood up. He nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Madam Miller! Please, everything I've said, I'm completely sincere on. Whatever wage, all you gotta do is name it and I'll make it happen somehow."
She waved a hand, then walked away. Though she was older, she had no limp and no hobble to the walk. He watched her closely then smiled. Yes, he was sure of it. Miller was the right choice, after all. She'd be worth the time spent. If she wasn't interested, she probably would have rejected him by now. She'd even given him what sounded like encouragement, and encouraged he felt.
Llyr felt about ready to tackle anything now.
He grinned despite himself, then took out another cigarette to smoke while he walked over to the area where the squashes were. He bent down, then pulled at a large one, while thinking about whether he wanted to have uniforms for those working in the shop or not.