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Kwakigra t1_iuf8z03 wrote

Sir Balenwood retorted, “You call five sovereigns reasonable!? Look at the state of this bridge! There’s no way any part of that toll is going into maintenance or labor! You’re just a polite highway robber, like the rest of your kind.”

The troll reached into his satchel and retrieved a document, presenting it to the knight close enough to read but not close enough to snatch. His eyes were glazed over and he moved slowly. He responded in an even tone, “Do you see this? This is a royal charter commissioning this bridge. This part here says that our company holds the legal right to design, maintain, and require payment for the use of this bridge. Part of that goes to labor, part of it goes to critical maintenance, and guess what? The rest goes back to your king in taxes. I could say the same about your kind, but I wouldn’t since it’s against terms to disparage humans or humanity as a requirement of the charter. We trolls had to make a lot of concessions after the war, so I’d really appreciate it if you respected your own laws and stop hassling me about this as if I had any part of deciding how much you’re paying here.”

The knight glared at the troll. The argument seemed consistent but he suspected that something was off. Even the modern movable bridges near the capital charged only a single sovereign. There was no way this provincial and crude structure could justify such an expense. Balenwood pointed his finger aggressively at the troll, “Some of that might be true, but there is no possible way that the price was set to five. Do you know what I think? I think you saw a wealthy looking human and figured you could squeeze me and I would throw you a few coins without thinking about it. Maybe you’ve met other humans like that but not me. I learned all about you trolls when I was deployed. You hate humans and wish nothing but harm to all of us. How dare you bring the war into into this?”

The troll rolled his eyes, “You’re the one who brought politics into this when you called me a ‘filthy troll.’ If you can’t understand why anyone would be hostile to a soldier in an invading army I’m not going to try to explain it to you. I’m more interested in right now. Right now, per the treaty, per the economic interests of our two nations, per the good faith effort to prevent future conflict by the kings of our nations, etcetera etcetera, I have the right to refuse service to any human or troll as I deem fit. Now the toll is six sovereigns or you can turn right around.”

Sir Balenwood’s face flushed and he gritted his teeth, he began to shout but quickly restrained himself to a barely contained and stilted fashion of speaking, “That is illegal. You can’t arbitrarily change the price, and you can’t pocket coins without reporting them to our tax office. I will pay the correct price as determined by the charter. I will happily pay the rate determined by law and not a copper more.”

The troll approached the gate to the bridge. Sir Balenwood sighed a breath of relief that this troll had finally seen reason, but let out a gasp when the troll threw a chain over it. He turned around and announced, “Now it’s seven sovereigns or I refuse service. If you have a complaint I believe your tax office is about a three day ride that way. If you want to take this to court I suggest you prepare for a legal fight. I’m not budging on this.”

Without thinking Sir Balenwood shouted, “Let me through, you insolent creature!”

The troll shrugged, “What are you going to do, attack a citizen of an allied nation and create the worst diplomatic crisis of the last century? I don’t think you’re going to do that. I’m about ten seconds from closing shop for the day. My rate is eight soveriegns or I’m going back into my office and you can find someone else to waste time with.”

Sir Balenwood was furious, but his anger gave way when he realized his situation. He let out a long, exasperated sigh that developed into a roar, “Fine! Eight Sovereigns. I will remember this, troll!” He dug into his coin purse and counted out the fee.

The troll, not reacting to the display, took that coins and set about opening the bridge without another word.


notmychoice1234 t1_iufzgwk wrote

It looks like Sir Balenwood encountered a troll bridge! Nice writing.