Choosing a partner

Lianna looked round from the notice and raised an eyebrow.  "Both of you?" she said.  "I'm not sure either of you would make a good partner for this."
Mirko shrugged, making himself keep a slight smile on his face, but Venne spoke up.
"Why?" he said, sticking his jaw forward.  Mirko now had to fight to keep his slight smile becoming a full grin.
"Look at you," said Lianna.  She turned round properly now and gestured at Mirko.  "You look like you've not seen the real world in months, if not years.  How could I trust you to watch my back if it turns out there's anything going on in the tower that we've not been told about?  And you," she gestured now at Venne, "you've just said you've got an arm injury.  How much use would you be if it came to a fight?"
"I can hold my own still," said Venne.  "It's not my dominant arm that's hurt."
Lianna sniffed.  "Don't you have anything to say for yourself?"
Mirko shrugged again.  "I don't spend much time in Kinewick, that's true.  But this is a tower on land that was being cleared; I might not know much about architecture, but I do know how to handle myself in the countryside."
"Fair point."  Lianna didn't smile though, and her stance didn't change.  She reminded Mirko of an alpha wolf, used to having to fight to maintain her position in the pack.
"How much does the job pay?" Venne edged past Lianna, looking for the notice.
"Enough for two, not enough for three."
"It seems that you two should take it on," said Mirko.  "I shall return to my enclave and tell the druids that there's not much work in Kinewick for now."
"Hah, not so fast druid."  Lianna eyed him up and down.  "Can you fight?"
"I can handle a quarterstaff," said Mirko.  "If you were around last year, I came second in the bouts at Harvest."
"Wait now!" Venne's cheeks had flushed red though the rest of his face was still pale.  "He doesn't need this work, I do!"
"I need someone I can rely on."
"You can rely on me.  I can outfight this druid, and I know about mechanisms.  I work with clockwork all day, some of those skills transfer over to..." he suddenly trailed off, and then leaned in to Lianna and whispered "other things."  Mirko gave no sign that he'd heard Venne as clearly as if he spoken the whole sentence out loud.
Lianna sighed.
"You can both come if you're willing to split one half of the payment between you," she said.  "Sort out your split between yourselves, I've no wish to listen to an argument.  And when you're done, I'll be outside."  She pulled the notice from the board, tearing it from its pin, and pushed past Mirko to get out.
"90-10," said Venne before Lianna was even out of the door.  "I know I'm more use than you are."
"So it would seem," said Mirko softly.  "90-10 then."
"That's it?  No bargaining, no negotiation?  Are all druids as soft a touch as you?"
"No soft touch, but I'm doing this as a service, not to make money.  You're doing it to earn your keep for a week; if I take money away from you, I'm doing you a disservice.  And you can be sure I'll remember you."
"Druids make threats, do they?  Come on, if we keep her waiting she'll likely decide to do it all by herself anyway."
Mirko offered his hand, not moving out of the way, and Venne looked at it for a few moments as if weighing up the cost of refusing it.  Then he pushed his hand out of his cloak and abruptly shook Mirko's hand.
"Let's go," Venne said.

The End

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