Sunday, December 10, 2017

Not Even Not Zen 101: A Bandit Accountant, 17.1

A Bandit Accountant

Chapter Seventh Prime

Scene One: Exchange Rates  

The reward of one hundred silver quarters is small for a wanted poster, Denario wrote in his journal that evening. The amount would cover a knight's expenses for two months. Only the less fortunate armsmen will take interest.

So I suppose there are no free lancers following my trail from Zeigeburg. Even if one could get through with his horse alive, the daily maintenance costs would eliminate any profit. The main danger is that the reward is large enough to put men-at-arms on the lookout as I cross their territories. The picture on the poster is a good one, if unscarred and clean-shaven. They might recognize me.

Lieutenant Dvishvili's enlisted man, the one who remembered me from somewhere, must have seen this poster. So I've taken it. It's in my supply bag, which is better than leaving it for others to read. I can scrape off the ink and re-use the sheepskin.

For the past few hours, I've worried about being caught. However, there are few other travelers on our road. I could halt, if my guides would allow it, and scrub the poster clean.

The parchment is precious because I've yet to encounter a paper maker in any Mundredi town. These folks write so little and own so many sheep that parchment serves for their records. And they are as likely to use stones, tiles, knots, sticks, and other methods. In fact, in the ruins of the church at South Ackerland I chanced upon another system. At first I thought it was simply a row of smashed pots. But each pot had tally marks written on it and clan totems as well. I knew these were signs of accounting. I picked up a shard that was mostly whole and kept it as an example.

From what I've seen, the fired clay ball is a potter's equivalent to a split stick. There is a vague mention of this practice in our guild histories. I was able to confirm my guesses by questioning my guides. Hermann Ansel was acquainted with the system. The pebbles I saw on the ground were counters. The counters were baked into the pots, which were sealed with glaze at the top. On the outside, debtor and lender house names were written. The debt amount was inscribed. But most peasants can't read the jars. They use the pebbles.

Whenever there was a dispute over a debt in South Ackerland, a trusted member of the church broke the seal of glaze over the debt amount. In front of witnesses, he or she then counted out what was owed. Afterwards, a potter baked a new debt pot, sometimes from pieces of the old one. The charge for that was added to the debt unless there was a prior arrangement made by the disputants. Herr Ansel said he had only seen one such argument in his lifetime and that a replacement pot was baked on the spot.

Thus the Mundredi prove again to be a truthworthy people aside from all of their casual murders and robberies.

I do wish that they understood money. The Ansels and I had an argument about it this evening. Hermann feels that money is evil. The rewards posted for Vir's head and mine played some role in that. He suspects that I'm in danger as I travel to where someone might turn me in for a reward. I'm sure my apprentices would feel the opposite, that it's the Mundredi peasants who are the danger, not our friends in the court.

Incredibly, both Hermann and Valentina revealed tonight that they value silver as much as gold. They thought the reward for my capture might be as high as Vir's. They have no idea of the Bank of Oupenli-Oggli exchange rates. I tried to explain that the reward for Vir's head, set at two hundred gold dollars, is at least twenty-four times what's been offered for me and yet it hasn't resulted in any serious attempt to capture Vir. Then I wrote the exchange rate chart as best as I can remember it.
Denominations, Official Bank of Oupenli-Oggli Rates for the Year of Inauspicious Pigeons 
Unicorn Tusk (two Octarina or higher depending on quality)
Black Octarina (negotiable, highest on record is 8 gryphon eggs)
Gryphon Egg (varies from 10,000 gold dollars to 40,000)
Gold Muntab Bar (denomination stamped, highest known is 20,000 gold Oggli dollars)
Dragon's Tooth (600 to 8,000 gold dollars)
Gold Muntab Double Ring (denomination stamped, lowest is fifty dollars, highest 500)
Gold Muntab Ring (denomination stamped, highest is twenty dollars)
Gold Pound (the Oggli gold trades 1 to 1 for Anghre and Oupenli gold but at 2 for 1 to the Muntar gold dollar, which is larger)
Oggli Silver Dollar (trades at 3 to 1 for the Oggli gold pound)
Muntab Iron Ring (these are a strong currency between blacksmiths and banks accept them currently at 1.5 per silver dollar)
Silver Half Dollar (2 for 1 silver dollar, of course)
Silver Quarter
Silver Dime (in Oggli the dime is currently worth 16 brassers but, in the valleys, it doesn't fetch a whole goat so it's apparently worth less here than the silver ring)
Silver Ring = 12 brassers, about the price of a healthy goat; these are sometimes called Goats because of the rate of exchange
Double Brasser = 6 pennies, generally the lowest daily wage; a foreman's wage will go as high as 10 brassers or 30 pennies a day
Brasser (Brass 3 penny coin)
Large Lead Ring (1.5 pennies)
Copper Penny(10 leads)
Copper Half-penny (5 leads)
Small Lead Ring (2 muni)
Lead Muni (a small coin in the shape of an egg – you can usually buy an egg with it but the Bank of Oupenli-Oggli does not accept it) 
I talked about exchange rates until my companions fell asleep. Hence I am writing in this journal. I've grown more fond of Oggli the longer I've been away. It is a wonderful place to learn about valuations. The mere act of writing down rates is comforting. After our talk tonight, the Ansels have stopped worrying that I'll betray them to the Oggli nobles. Now they're worried I won't survive my journey, which is kind.

The mayor of Ziegeburg must think I'm headed straight for Baron Ankster. That's the only reason he would be so willing to part with silver. Indeed, the reward tempts me to do so. It reminds me of the revenge I owe. 

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