This is a very rough draft of the opening scene of the short story that's been occupying my thoughts over the last few days. I'll almost certainly be adding to it over the next little while, because it's an idea that I can't let go, even if it's still a bit inchoate at this time. There's not much to judge yet, but I wanted to throw it out on the blog anyway, since people indicated they were interested in it.
Ya'govian looked up at the stranger in the broad-brimmed hat. "Why should I help you?"
"Because you're bored," he replied. "I find it hard to imagine that a man such as yourself is content with his present circumstances. Had the College lived up to your expectations, you'd almost certainly be one of the most esteemed mages in the city rather than … Well, let's just say that your talents weren't properly appreciated by the Termaxian Magisters."
"Don't flatter me," Ya'govian spat. "I wasn't under-appreciated; I was lazy and arrogant."
The stranger smiled. "It is good to see that your years as consort and child-rearer have not dulled your self-knowledge. Let us hope your command of sorcery remains as acute."
"You still haven't answered my question."
"Because you have debts," he sighed. "Debts you cannot hope to repay if you don't start putting your considerable abilities to work for you and soon. You may well have been lazy and arrogant while you studied at the College, but that doesn't change the fact that you were one of the most natural sorcerers the Magisters had seen in generations. You had – you have – remarkable potential and I'd like to help you put it to use, if only to make us both a goodly sum of money."
Ya'govian rubbed one of his soft hands over his mouth and chin and pondered.
"Your reluctance is understandable. You have your wife's position and your children's safety to consider. Sorcery can be a dangerous vocation, after all; it's not for those with something to lose, is it? Not unless they're very good indeed."
Ya'govian swore that the tavern suddenly grew quieter, but, taking a moment to examine his surroundings suggested otherwise. The place was as boisterous as ever and no one seemed to take any more notice of him now that he was talking to someone other than himself.
"Of course," added the stranger, removing his hat and taking a chair across from Ya'govian. "if I didn't believe you were very good indeed, I wouldn't be here right now, interrupting your nightly visit to this fine establishment."
Once more, the man smiled that smile that made Ya'govian want to reach across the table and punch him, but Ya'govian was no brawler – and he was bored. He was wary too; this stranger understood his mind too well and that concerned him.
"I do not do business with nameless men." He explained, hoping that the stranger might provide him with an excuse not to take up his offer.
"I am called Tiro," the stranger explained, extending his hand across the table to Ya'govian. "Does this mean you're willing to help me?"
"That depends on what you want me to do."