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Chapter 30: PARRY

There was opportunity for trade in Oman, with men willing to trade common items of their trade for items of interest or need. If you understood the needs of the many, a trader could predict the needs of the future. He spent his time visiting with shopkeepers, tradesmen, farmers and people that lived in town. There were few surprises when it came to their needs because they were often the same as everywhere. He did find surpluses that were different than those back home a standard upon which all trade is based. Knowing the needs of both sides was his greatest advantage.

His name generated curiosity because there was another important man of the same name that wielded control behind the scenes. Curiosity alone was enough for him to gain entry to places most people never saw and the news of a new bridge spanning the river held their attention far longer than most tall tales. With three cities to trade in, all of them found his barrels useful. A lifetime of building barrels and occasional trading trips could make for a fruitful life. He realized that he was free to consider a family of his own.

Grimley asked the trader. “Where did you get those beautiful feathers? I’ve never seen their like before. Serena stood at his side and gripped his bicep, she wished him to get as many answers as he could. Dressed as she was, in an almost mannish way, she attracted attention for her outfit and not her features. They had been playing this game with the traders for a few tendays now, and the amount of free information they gathered, was staggering.

“Sir, traders from the northeast bring feathers, exotic birds, darts with poisons, and strange foods. They have fruits like you’ve never seen before and a variety of nuts that defy your imagination. Just like the Wood-folk, who also have their special bows.”

“Where do they get their feathers?”

The man smiled. “We believe their feathers come from the northwest. We can’t travel in those woods but there is trade between the two lands. As a result, we see only a few of the colorful feathers and they are valuable. Hopefully, someone else will develop trade with them one day, but until that day comes, the feathers will remain rare.”

Parry nudged him and smiled, “We will go find the feathers when it is time. Right now, I would like to know what your desires are today.”

From the side, an older man nudged him back. “I want the same thing as any other trader. I want something that I can make a profit with. I know what we have, but I don’t know what you have. Would you be willing to work with me on that?”

Parry nodded and then paused. “I believe that there is another Parry that is in charge around here. I think that you should call me Cooper in order to avoid confusion.”
“That is all well and good, because my name is Parry. I believe that we have a lot of business ahead of us. I will need to show you a few of the routes to the south from here and I’d like to see that bridge that you’ve been talking about.”

The two traders walked off to discuss business while Grimley and Shar stood there. They watched the animation between them and then nodded at each other. He knew Cooper well enough that life around here would change. He would insert his trading skills into every crack and crevice that could be found. Shar realized from watching them a short while, that the two of them would probably take over all the trading in the area. She knew the older Parry’s reputation and the interaction of the two of them could make life around here very interesting.

“Shar, let’s get out of here. I’m hungry and I am told that there is an eating house on the north side that is worth standing in line for.”

She smiled at him. “Do they have a nice place for us to sleep as well?” I am tired of sleeping in barns and on the ground. Granted, my home doesn’t look far from sleeping on the ground, but it is quite convenient and far more comfortable than anything that I have seen yet.”

He smiled at her and promised her the best room in the house if available. They spent the evening talking over their possible futures and spent the night trying build on it.

In another alehouse, Parry Cooper asked, “What is more valuable, my goods or my barrels?”

The older man replied, “It is a good thing you ask, because there are very few goods that I have seen from Red Valley that is worth the trip. I am sorry, but we hunt the same animals, plant the same plants and live almost the same lives. Your barrels are worth the same, no matter what comes in them and are reusable for years. Of the grains, they are interesting, but they don’t grow well in our environment. We could use more of them.”

“In other words, you are almost as self-sufficient as your neighbors. Talk to me and tell me about your land so that we can trade interesting things.” Their discussion progressed for hours, and then days, until Trader Parry received a message from a man that even he paid his respects to.

“Evidently, your reputation precedes you. We have a meeting with My Liege.”

Parry looked askance at him. “Did you request this meeting for me?”
The old trader shook his head with puzzlement. “We were both tracked down just to be issued an invitation to speak with him. Often I speak with him and he tells me what I can do to stay in his favor. I have found that it is far more profitable to stay in favor and work his will than to oppose him or ignore him.”

“Does that mean you have little control over your trades?”

“Far from it, it gives me the greatest advantage of knowing what is wanted or needed and possibly more important, what is not wanted. I come up with surprises now and then, but often it is a matter of day in and day out trades that bring the most advantage to both parties. It is you that I hope will bring us a few surprises. That bridge that you told us about is the first surprise. I wonder how many more surprises we will have. Come, I’ll show you the shortcuts.”

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